Across Americas - Discovering the New World on a motorcycle

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by AnjinSan, Jul 19, 2012.

  1. Truenorth2005

    Truenorth2005 Been here awhile

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    Alex & Andreea

    Wishing you a very Merry Christmas from snowy Manitoba. A brisk minus 26 Celsius as I write this.
    Happy New Year and safe travels for 2013.

    Bill, Brenda and family.
  2. sinned

    sinned Been here awhile

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    Kia Ora & Seasonal Greetings Alex & Andreea, from a not so flightless fellow Kiwi ADVenturer based in mainland China. Read through this entire thread starting several days/nights ago - managed to get caught up to the final post today, so now feel able to say gidday or Nia Hao in Mandarin Chinese.

    Scribed to this ADVenture and will be following the updates & continued adventure.

    Enjoyed the reflective and insightful writing style, and the photo-loge & once again I'm warmed by the generosity of the human spirit on this (and other) thread(s) extended by so many like minded souls. BRAVO! After all as can be said, we're not strangers to one another, only friends who have never met. If you ever happen to be in mainland China at some point in the future then please look me (& my family) up (we're in Ningbo). I've a few bikes in the garage and loads of riding gear, plus we have a huge house, so plenty of space and room spare.

    MeRry XmAs, to you both and all the other peeps here...

    :1drink
  3. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    @TOTim, @Bill, thank you very much for your wishes! I hope you had a nice vacation as well!

    @Sinned: wow, to be honest exactly one year ago when I was just thinking if I should start this trip, I never would have dreamed of actually doing it and having people from so many places helping and encourage us.

    Some, we know from here on Adv, others just brought by chance in our pathways. With some we will have the chance to meet again, others we haven't met yet.

    It is just as you said: "we're not strangers to one another, only friends who have never met"

    So we do hope to meet as well somehow. If not in China, maybe in Romania?:evil
  4. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    We got to spend Christmas in Ecuador and we had some unexpected events that made our Holidays very special (in a good way). But until we tell you that, I hope you will enjoy the story of our first days in Colombia.



    First days in Colombia: 12-14 of December
    I open my eyes and the walls are moving. The problem is that you don’t have a fixed point to hold on too. Everything shifts and rocks up and down and from side to side. It is morning, it must be as there is some light from above. But the engine noise is missing. That means we are still broken down and “dead in the water”. I get up and carefully climb up to the deck. There people are trying to find a “stable” place to sit and wait.
    [​IMG]
    The engine has problems with some admision valves which broke into pieces. Luckily there is a welding machine on board. And, even more, one of the travelers, Paul, knows how to weld. So, the guys get to work. It takes a few hours to take the parts apart, weld them and put them back. I can only imagine that it was quite difficult to weld in an environment which is moving all the time. After the second try, the motor is ready to go. We start with reduced speed in order not to stress the parts, but we are advancing.
    [​IMG]
    So, with a delay of one day, we have land in our sights! We are in Colombians waters.​
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    The first contact with the city is a total surprise. When thinking at Cartagena I was imagining old colonial port-town, with a scent of pirates and exotic spices. First time, we see… skyscrapers reaching the clouds.​
    [​IMG]
    But the old Cartagena will reveal itself, a little bit later. For now we had to get ourselvs and the bikes onshore. The part with taking the people onshore is easy. Just use the dingy.​
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    To get our Colombian stamps is again an easy task, albeit a little tedious as we have to wait a while in the immigration building. And that’s it for the day. The bikes will have to wait a fresh start, tomorrow, at 6 AM.​
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    And it is not going to be that simple. First step is to get the bikes on firm land. And here Stahlratte cannot approach a doc and just lift the bikes. So, we load the bikes, one by one on the small dingy! Then the owner will sit on the bike, to kip it “upwards” and navigate like that to the shore.​
    [​IMG]
    I must admit, that must have been one of the most interesting ways to “ride” a bike.​
    Then you must take your motorcycle to the aduana building which is several streets away. The interesting thing is that officially you shouldn’t ride your bike in Colombia, as you don’t have the paper work for the temporary import. But, you just ride it and rely on the fact that nobody will stop you and ask anything.​
    The paperwork takes the hole day. I guess that having 12 bikes at once in the Aduana doesn’t help with the speed but the general impression was that the officials take their time. A lot of time. Anyway, by 16 o’clock we are out and drive to hour hostel which quickly fills with bikes. A beautiful sight for a motorcyclist.​
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    With all the papers done and the bikes parked, it’s time to visit the old city. On the streets we find a lot of cars which are designed in Romania and sold here under Renault badge. So we feel a little like home.​
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    But we are not at home. The old colonial city reveals itself in bright colors and a lot of movement.​
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    People are dancing, selling all kind of stuff on the streets, listening to latin music and just having a good time.​
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    We are walking throuch old neighborhoods with quiet parks and… Christmas trees.​
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]Yes, Christmas is coming soon. For a second, just a second, I think that we are so far away from home and our Christmas traditions. It will be the first year being away from Romania in this season. And not only that we will be away from Romania but we don’t even know where we will be. Colombia? Ecuador? The second passes and I smile. It will all be good.​
    For now, we talk with 3 of Santa’s helpers, asking them to tell Santa that this year, he needs to bring our presents in South America!​
    [​IMG]
    We have dinner on the side of the street, from a stand, with the locals. We feel incredible good! We are surrounded by salsa, lights, people dancing in front of their houses or discussing the day’s matters over a beer. We are in Colombia and we start to feel it!​
    [​IMG]
    No map for this story.
    Next time we find out in how many ways you can pass a slow moving truck on a Colombian road. Stay tuned!
  5. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Alex, more great photos. Thank you. Hope your Christmas was merry.. You will have a new year in a new continent. How cool is that? waiting on the next report.
  6. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Thanks Tom! We had indeed a very interesting Christmas, in Ecuador. As for the New Year's eve... Peru shall be. Let's see where in Peru.

    I hope winter is kind with you in North of Mexico!
  7. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

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    Wow! I just discovered your ride report and have read through it in one sitting! Very enjoyable to read and the photos are great. Thanks!
    I own an olympic racing canoe used by Ivan Patzaichin in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics :D
  8. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    WOW!!! jbcaddy, no way! You really have a Ivan Patzaichin's canoe??? That's awesome! Ivan is one of my favorite Romanian sportsmen. :clap
  9. jbcaddy

    jbcaddy Long timer

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    Romania was the only "communist" country to come to the 1984 L.A. Olympics. To sweeten the deal for them, the organizing commitee told them to bring the boats they were accustomed to racing to Los Angeles. Then the Romanian team left thier boats here. The organizing commitee bought the team new boats from the factory in Europe and the team picked them up when they got back home. The boats were then sold to people and clubs in the US and Canada. I bought his C-1 and still have it. When canvas cover started to fall apart, I saved the area where it had his name painted on it and was able to have him personally sign it when I was at the 1996 Olympic games in Atlanta, US of A. He is not just a hero to Romanians!

    Keep riding and telling us your thoughts along the way. Jan
  10. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Hi guys,

    I just put together a movie from our crossing of Darien Gap with the Stahlratte. Hope you will enjoy.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/u456ptNGync" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" width="560"></iframe>
  11. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Very nice video. The crossing was quite an adventure in itself. Adam and Karen are here in Banamichi for our fiesta for Año Nuevo. We will raise a glass to you guys. Prospero Año Nuevo and may your new year be filled with more adventure.

    Abrazos
  12. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

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    Hi AnjinSan,

    Thanks for sharing the video!
    It is very nice, wow that last bit lifting the bike off the small raft made me think how the GS1200 or heavier bikes would do there.
    Great success :clap
    Looking forward to reading your posts further.
    Happy New Year!!!!
    Best,
    Vic
  13. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    makes me look forward to two more sailings!!!:puke1
  14. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    They had quite a few of GS's and even a big cruiser and all got the same treatment to get onshore. For sure it was hard work for the quys with the ropes :evil

    But more interestingly, was sitting on the bike while the dingy was moving across the waters. Very very different feeling than the one with "tierra firma".
  15. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    He he Paul, I just wish that you will not have to put your welding skills to work again to get to Cuba and then back to the mainland :)
  16. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Today, in our hotel's basement:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    What a way to finish the year for Gunnar, near 4 KTMs that will race in Dakar Rally 2013. Happy New Year to everybody!
  17. ChiriLeo

    ChiriLeo n00b

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    Alex and Andreea,
    I'm enjoying your report so much... even if it makes Canada seem much colder that it is these days!
    Happy New Year!
    Leo
  18. TOTim

    TOTim Been here awhile

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    Happy New Year Alex and Andreea.
  19. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Guys, I hope you had a blast for New Year's Eve party. We celebrated in Lima and then headed out on 1st of January towards the Andes.

    Right now we are high in the mountains and enjoying every moment of it. Here's a picture from today, taken at 4500 meters. In search of llamas!

    [​IMG]

    New entry in the ride report coming soon, still trying to get out of Colombia in there :freaky
  20. AnjinSan

    AnjinSan Been here awhile

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    Coffee and sweet people: 17 – 20 December
    I´m not a coffee drinker. But I did have a coffee from time to time ever since I got into Central America, in the coffee areas. Never too much and always with milk- I know, I know, the taste is not the same but what can I do, I am not a genuine coffee drinker.
    As we are heading South out of Medellin, we are entering the Colombian coffee plantations.
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    We are heading towards Manizales where we will couchsurf for the first time in South America. We are making slow progress mainly because we cannot take our eyes of the scenery.
    [​IMG]The hills are all coffee plantations, waves of green interrupted from time to by colored spots: white, yellow, blue. Farm houses. It´s hard to tell how you can reach them up there on the hills. [​IMG]
    Even the road signs seem funnier here. Hmmm, what animals should we pay attention to?
    [​IMG]
    We had a dilemma to solve in Manizales. Gunnar was unstable for a while, the steering wheel was vibrating pretty hard. I supposed it was the front tire, it was an old one and had some small bumps. I changed it in Medellin and the “symptoms” didn´t disappear, to my disappointment. Therefore I decided to change the break pads also (thinking that maybe they didn´t wear off equally) . Nothing again! The steering wheel or the fork were tight and good. The wheel was spinning freely. I couldn´t figure out what´s wrong with it.
    Our hosts knew a mechanic so we went to see him in the morning. The mechanic did the same thing and everything seemed to be all right. Then he takes a look a the rear wheel. I look also and we see a big crack in the rear tire. I think it helped that the tire was heated now because I checked it few days before when it was cold and I didn´t see anything. Anyway this was bad. The tire had large surfaces with cracks so deep that you could see the casing. Pretty scary. So we know what we have to do without further discussions, we get into the mechanic´s car and hit the city to find a new tire.The only thing I can find is a very expensive Bridgestone. Great, now my both wheels have tires I don´t trust (TrailWings), and since I bought them without researching before I payed a lot of money for them also. But at least Gunnar is fine.
    [​IMG]
    We say “Goodbye” to our very helpful and friendly hosts and pick Salento as our next destination. Salento is a small village further South. We like lazy days when we don´t do too many kilometers but discover beautiful things.
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    We get to the main plaza in Salento and begin our usual “accommodation ritual” (we are looking for an affordable place, with safe parking for our motorcycle and pretty ok for us also, and that´s what we are asking around for). We get really funny directions, they vary according to how much we can understand from the locals and how much we think we understand….
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    “Todo largo” on that street (??), walk 4 “cuadras” (I do know what that is), then left and “recto” (watch your language) and you are there. Got it? Hmm, we will see what we can find. We found a different “hospedaje” where we cross the “finish line” of the day. Right on time as sun is sneaking behind the roofs.
    [​IMG]
    In Salento we discover life in the countryside, all peaceful and quiet and two very beautiful souls, Maria del Mar and Nicolas from Bogota who came here for the holidays. There are both bohemians and singers and we get along very well (we were staying at the same hostel). We go out for a coffee together (best coffee I had in my life), alfajores (typical cookies) and we share thoughts and experiences. [​IMG]
    We ask them about life in Bogota. Nicolas gives us a straight answer: “We are buying things that we don’t need, with money that we don’t have, to impress people that we don’t care about”. Hmmm, does this seem familiar?​
    [​IMG]
    We are really getting along with these people and we continue walking the streets between houses dressed up for celebrations.​
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    On top of it all, Nicolas owns a car that is very special to me. It was the car my father bought the year I was born and 18 years later I learned how to drive it. Here´s the Colombian version.​
    [​IMG]
    The next day we say “Goodbye”. Maria offers us her music album on a CD we will listen to when we get home (where we have a CD-ROM). Farewell friends!​
    [​IMG]
    Before leaving we go back the the coffee place we had the very good coffee and meet the owner of this small business, Jesus. He is very passionate about this place and he is telling us about coffee growing also inviting us to the place where we selects and grinds the coffee.
    [​IMG]
    We learn a lot of interesting things about coffee growing process.
    [​IMG]
    Even more impressing is the fact that this man is a lawyer. But came back to the “countryside” and started a project trying to support the people there.He told us “I am trying to build something positive for my family, environment and the community I live in then extending it to the region and my country, Colombia. We have to start locally, in small communities. We will be able to see the results when more an more people will start doing the same”.

    [​IMG]
    He is telling us that most of the Colombian coffee producers only grow the coffee, take out the beans and sell them for a low price, mostly for export. Thus the good quality Colombian coffee cannot be drank in Colombia as it is exported. [​IMG]
    He decided to build a small processing factory so that the good quality Colombian coffee can be drank in Colombia also. He takes the coffee from his father´s coffee farm but also buys it from other plantations, carefully selecting it, roasting it at the right temperature so that his customers can enjoy an exquisite cup.
    [​IMG]
    I like his approach. He resisted the “big” challenges and doesn´t expect for his solution to universally solve these problems. [​IMG]
    Most of the good coffee will continue to leave Colombia in its early stage and for little money and most Colombians will only be able to drink lower quality coffee. But he found a way to bring little changes. He decided to do something, although his work is just a small drop in the ocean. But what is an ocean if not millions of drops getting together.
    [​IMG]
    We shake hands and wished him good luck with his project. Maybe one day our friend will be able to send his good coffee to Romania also.
    From Salento we go to Popayan, keep heading South. We leave the mountainous scenery for the sugar cane plantations. Apparently it´s harvest time.
    [​IMG]
    It getting more and more difficult to overpass. Luckily we are not in the mountains anymore so there are not too many curves.
    [​IMG]
    But hei, if you ride for many days in a row and don´t know where to keep your bananas… here´s an idea:
    [​IMG]
    It´s almost dark when we reach Popayan and some rain clouds get there in the same time. We confine to our ritual again searching for a place to sleep. Hard to find an available and affordable spot. It´s holiday time apparently and everyone is traveling home. As I come back unsuccessfully from a hotel search I see another DL650 parked next to Gunnar. Red, clean, 2012 model (but the old lines not the new design) and lots of after market parts.I meet the guy talking to Andreea. His name is Fredie and the red DL belongs to his boss. He is trying to help us guiding us to other hotels but the ones that still have rooms have touristy prices. Then Frankie says “if you want you can come stay at my places. I´m on Couchsurfing but cannot host people right now because my place is really small. But if you want and don´t mind cats you can come sleep at my place”.
    We stop by the ship where Fredie is working meet his boss, Jaime (the owner of the red DL650) and he offers to help us well, with a place for our motorcycle overnight.
    We feel so taken care of, needing to do nothing and having so much consideration from these guys. We settle in the motorcycle (first worry of any rider [​IMG] ) and then we set up our place to sleep in the hallway of Fredie’s small apartment (which he share with 2 other girls). We move around some furniture to make room on the floor for our two sleeping mattress. The space was very limited but who cares? His heart was so big. So we felt very very good in the end.
    Heading back to the shop, Jaime and 2 other friends are waiting us with some beers and a lot of happy mood. My Spanish must have been improving due to the beers or so I think because we are taking about “heavy” subjects and these guys seem to understand me… Hmmm…
    One of Jaime’s friends is a cop (oh and I just told all the stories about passing in Colombia) and he is so funny! He educates us about how we should handle the situation if we are stopped by cops on the road. I must confess that I am not good at the methods he explained and I would prefer not to be stopped at all [​IMG]
    And, to he honest, now that we’re out of Colombia I must say that the cops and the military met in Colombia where among the friendliest we’ve seen in the hole trip. No stopping, no control, and every time big smiles and “thumbgs up”. [​IMG]
    We talk with Jamie Frankie and their friends a long time, well into the night. Next morning we are invited for breakfast before leaving.
    [​IMG]
    Then, we have to say good bye and start a new day of discovery!
    [​IMG]
    The map of these post:

    <small>View Larger Map</small>
    Next time we head full speed into Ecuador and try to change the Hemisphere in which we are traveling. Stay tuned!