Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. CloneBoy

    CloneBoy Future Adventurer

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    Midwest, USA
    ya land yet Gene?
  2. theturtleshead

    theturtleshead Tits on a fish

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    Medellin Colombia ain,t nowhere better
  3. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/88.html

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    "25 souls on board". I don't know why, but this sounds so nautical-speak, I LOVE IT!

    So with all the bikes on board, we were off into the Caribbean Sea! First stop, the San Blas islands where we are offloaded to find accommodations for the evening, since we are not officially booked to stay on the ship till the day after.

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    Run off the ship, forced to fend for ourselves

    The San Blas islands are populated by the Kuna indians, and we are put up for the night in their huts. Most of the islands are quite tiny, we could walk the length of ours in under a minute! Their primary means of transportation is by dugout canoe, which are works of art created from a single tree trunk.

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    Most of the Kuna women were wearing colourful dresses and legwear

    We were a bit taken aback by all the flags with swastikas adorning the boats on the island and vehicles near the Carti pier the day before. But we found out that this was the flag of the Kuna Yala community that lives along the San Blas islands. It wasn't the first time we've seen non-Nazi swastikas in our travels, as our trip through India revealed their religious significance in that culture.

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    Island hopping by beautiful dugout canoe

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    The colourful material that the dresses are made from are called mola and are popular to tourists as well

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    Neda taking a stroll around our island. This is her third time around in the last 5 minutes...

    We feel a bit abandoned on that tiny island, as we thought we were going to spend a night on the ship. We had to pay for our hut and we weren't able to sleep in the bed provided because Neda was allergic to all the sand fleas, so we opted to sleep in a double-hammock instead.
    Not a comfortable sleeping arrangement for the entire night. It was the only mis-step in our entire Stahlratte experience.

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    Little Kuna girl with her puppy

    The next morning, a dinghy picked us up and we sailed off on the Stahlratte in search of a more deserted island to lounge around in the sun and the warm waters of the Caribbean. This truly was a vacation from our regular trip, bikes bundled against the salt water spray for the duration and us frolicking and relaxing on the boat.

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    Beautiful breakfast spread on the Stahlratte, surrounded by crazy Australian bikers

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    Bikes are all wrapped up to protect against the corrosive sea spray - still going to hit a carwash after though!

    We're sharing our boat with a mostly German crew, a bunch of wacky Australian bikers, and an assortment of European backpackers and bicyclists. Quite the international bunch! Ludwig was the perfect host, having adopted a very island attitude towards everything in his 8 years in the Caribbean. Everything he said was prefaced with: "No problem", "Don't worry". It was truly a stress-free experience.

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    In the afternoon, we find a nice isolated island to anchor next to. BBQ is being prepared for the evening!

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    The deserted islands here could have been templates for all those comic strips

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    Stahlratte anchored off the shore of our playground island

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    After a BBQ dinner on the island, a bonfire!

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    Feeling very Castaway at this point. Forgot my Wilson volleyball...

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    Chillin'

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    The next day, more watersports! Neda goes snorkeling

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    Beautiful starfish - the Germans on board called this a SeaStar.

    After doing some snorkeling, Neda and I swim over to our own deserted island to explore a bit. It feels so wild, wide and open out here, we thought maybe we'd put up a bungalow on this island, get a dugout canoe to go grocery shopping at the Kuna Yala's next door...

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    Honey Ryder, GS Ryder?

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    "I think we'll put the swimming pool over here..."

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    Neda's shellphone seems to be getting excellent reception

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    Whiling the day away on our private deserted island - so cool!


    On the Stahlratte, they don't make you walk the plank. Instead...

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    Climbing 20 metres above the deck to reach the crow's nest - picture by Remo Hug

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    Social time before our voyage

    In the middle of the night, we heard the engines turn on and we prepared ourselves for the 30-hour journey to Cartagena. I was a bit worried about getting seasick, since my last experience on the ferry between La Paz and mainland Mexico ended very badly. So while we were in Panama, we stocked up on 100 Gravol pills and made sure we started our tablet diet before we boarded the ship.

    We ended up both feeling ill anyway, this time it was Neda's turn to feed the fishes overboard while I ended up keeping my lunch where it belonged. The crew was very good in predicting what we needed, as the large breakfast we had the day before was replaced with a basket of bread and crackers on the kitchen table.

    The rest of the passengers emerged from the hold, faces green and all talk on the deck was kept to a minimum: "Pass the crackers please", "I have to puke again, excuse me, pardon me..."

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    Beautiful sunsets from the deck of the Stahlratte

    I think the point of having a rest day in San Blas was to get to know everyone socially before we all clammed up the next day due to sea-sickness. Ludwig told us that most people take 24-48 hours to get their sea-legs, which didn't help as our journey was only 30 hours long anyway.

    Needless to say, not a lot of pictures from our actual voyage! :)
    gentleman279 and Tricky [RCAF] like this.
  4. Balanda

    Balanda on any sunday

    Joined:
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    Australia
    Just superb! Besides the sea sickness, I kinda wish you had a week or two sailing the Caribbean, posting awesome pic's. Looking forward to Colombia.
    Marty.
  5. CharlestonADV

    CharlestonADV I do my own stunts!

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    Charleston, SC
    Amazing...your RR never fails to inspire. Good sailing.:D
  6. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

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    Tokyo, Japan
    Yeah. Absolutely fantastic. :D
  7. motoged

    motoged Been here awhile

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    Feb 26, 2006
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    908
    Location:
    Kamloops, BC
    Gene and Neda,
    Livin' the dream.....I hope you two stretch it out and build an infinite memory bank to draw on when you need to see the good side of life...

    :clap
    <input id="gwProxy" type="hidden"><input jscode="leoInternalChangeDone()" onclick="if(typeof(jsCall)=='function'){jsCall();}else{setTimeout('jsCall()',500);}" id="jsProxy" type="hidden">
  8. Wotnext

    Wotnext KLR 650

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    Home - Johannesburg South Africa
    Just caught up today from the start. :clapThanks to you both for a superb trip report and great pics. I will be doing this in 2014 and am planning it now. Gotta learn some Spanish before I go.:D
  9. WarLlama

    WarLlama belligerent cameloid

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    The Stahlratte seems to be a popular vessel for getting past the Darien Gap, its appeared in several reports here, they seem to have all the details worked out. :thumb They could slap another coat of paint on the old gal though. :wink:
  10. Honkey Cat

    Honkey Cat Tailights Fade!

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    May 5, 2011
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    SW Florida
    Just got caughtbup, what an amazing time. Someday!
  11. norcalstew

    norcalstew Adventurer

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    Location:
    Westwood, ca
    Love this story. It's like waiting for the next pages of your favorite book to be published. Cant wait for more, thank you both.
  12. PrtclMn001

    PrtclMn001 Custom User Title

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    979
    Location:
    Upstate/Central NY
    I usually stay away from ADV during snowmobile season (I tour all over NY on my touring snowmobile - unlike many, I embrace the snow lol) and I somehow missed the beginning of this one and spent the lt few days catching up... FANTASTIC report so far and I'm looking forward to the next chapter!

    Though you are off to bigger and better places, if you do find yourselves in NY looking to explore the Adirondack Mountains in greater detail than you probably already have, you are more than welcome here if you need a place to stay... I do have a cat (sorry, Gene lol) but I also have 4 acres and plenty of room for a tent and only one neighbor (nice and quiet here). :)
  13. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

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    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/89.html

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    On the second day of travel, most of the passengers emerged from the hold of the ship feeling human again. We were landlubbers no more, and greedily shoveled down the hearty Stahlratte breakfast laid out on the top deck. For some of us, it was the first real meal we ate in over 24 hours!

    Our newfound sealegs were not going to be put to use, as the skyline of Cartagena emerged on the horizon in the early afternoon. South America beckoned to us! For most of the passengers it was the first time on this continent. The Stahlratte anchored down a few hundred meters away from the shores of Manga Island, where the Aduana offices were located. Because it was expensive to rent a commercial pier to offload the bikes, we used a small public pier and dinghied the bikes to shore. It was a wild process to get the bikes on land and it's a testament to the crew's experience that we timed the offload to coincide with high tide as you can see in the video below:


    Couldn't believe how they got our bikes onto shore!

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    My bike needed a few extra pair of hands to haul up

    Since we had just unloaded the bikes illegally onto Colombian shores without customs or insurance, we were quickly hurried to the Aduana building a few short blocks away. Ludwig had arranged everything with a local fixer to get us legal, and within a few hours, all 10 bikes had all the papers required to ride in the country. We have been really impressed with how well-oiled and efficient the Stahlratte experience has been, coupling plenty of Darien crossing experience with German efficiency and Caribbean good-humour.

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    Riding through the old town of Cartagena

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    Arriving at our neighbourhood for the next few days

    We're staying in a part of town called Getsamani, a seedier district of Cartagena that recently has undergone a transformation from a past checkered with drugs and prostitution to a vibrant, hip neighbourhood of cafes, restaurants and nightclubs. We've booked a room with air-conditioning (very important) and we're initially a bit disappointed to learn that there is no hot water in the showers. Until we realize that the average temperature in Cartagena is 31C all year round. No one needs a hot water shower!

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    Performers at the Convention Centre in Cartagena

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    Found out later this is the Caribbean Arts Festival

    Mornings and evenings are the best time to be out in the city, and our neighbourhood as well as the nearby historic centre is bustling with activity, both tourist and local. We both loved the colonial architecture, pretty balconies with flowers looking over cobblestone streets, and the ever present churches looming above the narrow alleyways.

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    Sun setting behind San Pedro Claver Church

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    Balconies everywhere!

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    The Cafe Del Mar is the best place in the city to watch a sunset

    We hung out mostly with the Stahlratte club, meeting in the evenings for drinks and walking around the city. A friend put us in touch with Nick and Clara, who live in Toronto, but spend their winters in Cartagena. We spent a couple of days with them, and they spoiled us silly, ferrying us from swimming at luxury hotels, drinks overlooking the Cartagena shore and delicious seafood dinners.

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    Mojitos by the poolside! Heaven!

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    Nick and Clara live across the Sofitel Hotel in the centro and this is how he spends every afternoon!

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    Follow the nose, it always knows!

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    The hotel was renovated in an old convent, and the bar is built over a crypt. Spooky!

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    The party (and mojitos) continue at Nick and Clara's balcony across the street

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    Horse-drawn nights in the historic centre

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    Neda celebrates her first birthday on the road

    It's still a novelty celebrating anniversaries on the road, different than a trip or a vacation. First Christmas, first birthday, etc., not being tied to any place, knowing that the next anniversary the next year will be somewhere entirely different. We're loving the nomadic experience, I think mainly because there's so many new things to see and we're going at a pretty slow pace to appreciate everything.

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    Late night coffee in the plaza

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    Post-hangover lunch in Getsamani

    After 3 days of non-stop drinking to celebrate Neda's birthday, we crawled out of our hostel to the heat haze of the Cartegena afternoon. We enjoyed pizza and spaghetti in a great Italian restaurant around the corner called I Balconi, watching the lazy weekend unfold below in the streets of our neighbourhood.

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    This outfit looks more Cuban than Colombian

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    Early morning bicycle ride

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    Cuban women selling fruits on the street

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    More balconies!

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    Walkng the streets of Cartagena

    After a few days in Cartagena, the Stahlratte Motorcycle Club decided to split ways. One group was heading to the north to the beaches of Santa Marta, while another was headed south to Medellin. We rode with them out of the city, 8 adventure bikes zipping in and out of Colombian traffic, the Caribbean Sea blowing warm air on our already hot and humid group ride.

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    Typical group ride shots - gas stations and food stops

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    Charter member of the Stahlratte Motorcycle Club

    Neda and I had different plans, so we accompanied them as far as Baranquilla, a couple of hours on the shore north of Cartagena. After a final breakfast together, we said goodbye and went our different ways. Apparently, the first item on our plan was to get rained on on the interior roads back to Cartagena. It was so hot that we didn't bother putting any rainsuits on, and our ride was made a bit more bearable as our mesh gear dried and evaporated our wet clothes underneath on the road back to the city.
  14. Blader54

    Blader54 Long timer

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    Your comment, Gene, about taking the time to see things reminded me of a six week trip my girlfriend and I took through Europe on bicycles many years ago. Because we had a plane to catch in Vienna on a given day and time there were some things we passed by, telling ourselves "we'll see that when we come back, and we WILL be back!" But we never went back. Never left the States again. I know you guys had to speed through Costa Rica etc to make the SteelRat, but I do believe you guys will indeed return, and I think that it is a wonderful thing that you have the mindset and the time to take it slow and easy and see and do all that you want/can along the way. Bravo!:clap
  15. trululu96

    trululu96 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2012
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    46
    Location:
    MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA
    Hello,
    I've been reading your RR lately it seems like you are are having a lot of fun !
    Glad you made it to South America, I live in Medellin so if you are looking for a nice ride near the city I would be glad to take you on one!

    Greetings, Daniel
  16. mint julep

    mint julep Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2012
    Oddometer:
    190
    Location:
    Canada
    Happy birthday Neda!

    Glad to see you guys made it over the gap.

    The old city in Cartagena is beautiful. Traveling the coast up to Santa Marta is really nice.
    You can chill and scuba in Taganga or trek over to the Lost City.

    I'm so envious, Colombia is such a beautiful country with lots of great culture, food and people.

    Have a blast, I'll reading your posts intently on this leg to see it thru a moto perspective.

    Cheers,
    Dave
  17. Jimdamit

    Jimdamit не стреляйте

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Saint Paul, MN
    It looks like you guys are having a great time! This is an amazing report. I am living vicariously through you since we woke up to another six inches of snow in Minnesota. I wish I was there (or anywhere but here!).:freaky
  18. C-Stain

    C-Stain Long timer

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    Location:
    Canoodia
    Happy Birthday, Neda!

    Best wishes for more excellent adventures in your coming year.

    Make sure Gene does (did) something special.....
  19. Golden_Cliff

    Golden_Cliff Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2013
    Oddometer:
    25
    Happy Birthday Neda, wish you all the best. Many thanks Gene and Neda for your time making excellent RR and awesome photographs. Have a safe journey.:clap
  20. DeeGee

    DeeGee I'm a Yorkshireman thanoz

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    Up North In The UK!
    Just awesome. Awesome.

    My wife and I are hoping to do a similar kind of trip for my 50th (6 years time)

    Thanks for sharing and inspiring :clap