South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by JDowns, Oct 2, 2012.

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  1. aDave

    aDave Lovin' Life!

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    I don't think that JD would care much...but I am wondering why this ride report is not sporting a rating yet?

    Small bike, laid back author, super small budget, individual advrider financially assisted, wonderful locations, attempt by the author to assist future riders with their own adventure, in real time, family friendly, work safe and expanding our masonry historical perspective of ancient ruins. I'm loving this...

    I've cast my vote. Fantastic!:clap
    Dave
  2. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

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    +1 :thumb
    The picture quality seems even better now and the Darien crossing suspense keeps me checking in few times a day.
  3. legends117

    legends117 Adventurer

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    +1 fo' dat :happay
  4. Paratrout

    Paratrout Been here awhile

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    agreed. This is a top notch ride report.
  5. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Dave,

    Glad you are enjoying the ride report. The ratings don't show up on some computers apparently. I noticed when I was using cmnthead's iPad earlier this week that this report didn't come up with a rating.

    However, because of people like yourself it actually does have a five star rating on this computer.

    Glad to have you along for the ride. It's a bit like an ADVrider reality show. I never know where this ride is going any more than you do.

    Kindest regards,
    John Downs
  6. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Dracula,

    I switched to a better camera when I made it to Panama. It takes a while longer to load the larger pictures, but if you're like me, it's all about the pictures.

    Saludos,
    Juan
  7. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Still sitting here listening to the birds chirping in the jungle and looking at all my options as I look out across Portobelo bay. The misty clouds are blowing by overhead at sunrise turning pink and orange. Nobody is up at this hour. Everyone left last night after the bar closed at 10 and very few have made it back. Only 2 other people in the bunk area.

    This reminds me of when I spent a week waiting for a plane to leave the Kulu valley in the Himalayas for the short flight to Shimla. Every day was the same. Maybe tomorrow. If I had known it would take a week instead of a day, I would have taken the 16 hour bus ride. It's much the same feeling here on the Carribean. Lots of people waiting around for a mythical boat.

    Traveling by boat in rough seas isn't my idea of a good time. I may just bite the bullet and fly the bike to Bogota for 900.00. I'd rather be riding.

    Taking a combination of Kuna cargo boats and launchas could take a couple three weeks to get to Colombia at the rate I'm going. The flying option starts sounding better and better. I could be riding in the Colombian mountains next week. Hmmmm.

    I have heard that the launchas are gouging people in Puerto Obaldia. Some people paid 300 to get their bikes from there to Turbo. This is all second hand hearsay, so you never know until you get there.

    The difference in cost is probably 2 weeks of riding expense. So it comes down to whether I want to spend two weeks less riding or two weeks more waiting.

    more later……
  8. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    You can deduct your 'waiting' costs from your flight :deal

    I've been in this dilema before .

    Fly down, boat back?
  9. ex_MGB

    ex_MGB Been here awhile

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    Hang in there John. I'm reminded of waiting a week at Al Udeid for a Space A (available) flight to beautiful Bagram. Merely a lowly contractor. But after 2-1/2 years in Iraq, waiting was second nature.

    My first overseas stint was two years in Trinidad. It took me a year to finally slip into the local mindset and shake my Western sense of time.

    I paypaled you another day or two. Put an asterick by ex_MGB if you will. For what it's worth, I vote for the sea route...
  10. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

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    What others said.. and for what is worth, I imagine how they might be able to gouge someone arriving in an island half way to Colombia because of not many options once already there. I wouldn't mind a rough sea as long as I knew the boat was safe, if it saved me a considerable amount . I kind of get kicks out of that or when flying and the plane hits trubulences :evil
    If multi-boat crossing cost is uncertain as well as timeline, then unless severely constrained, I'd splurge and take the more direct way - either one single boat with a set price or fly myself and bike. Just a greenhorn's 2 cents on the topic.
  11. JackJack

    JackJack Dulce Periculum

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    Hi John! The wanna-be accountant in me is adding up the expenses for each travel option.

    Boat: $20 day living expenses while waiting and while on the boat. Multiply that by 2 weeks searching a boat and 1 week on the boat: $420 and 21 days not really riding. Now add the cost of the boat ride. Let's say for kicks $400. That brings the boat to $820, 21 days lost, and a crap ton of loading and unloading hassle/risk.

    Plane: $900, maybe a couple days lost waiting for the next flight.

    If it were me, I would be on the plane, but I don't care much for open water and am quite impatient. Of course, my numbers are a huge guesstimate and may not be anywhere close to real cost. :deal

    Looking forward to hearing how it all pans out.
  12. Throttlemeister

    Throttlemeister Long timer

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    A decent plan, put your bike on the Stahlratte that is leaving on the 14th for Cartagena and take the little plane ride down to the end of the line in Panama and play backpacker to Colombia and then bus over to Cartagena from Turbo or fly to Cartagena from PC.

    The Stahlratte and the Independence are supposed to be the only two boats to carry bikes across and I know the Stahlratte is full of people this crossing but they can always take another bike on board for easy $, maybe they will lower the price since you only have a 250:lol3

    Now just arrange your own transport to Cartagena and viola:freaky
  13. BeachGuy

    BeachGuy Alabama & Costa Rica

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    John, a fellow rider and his buddy are riding two KLR 650's and are taking a boat tomorrow. He emailed me the info just a couple of minutes ago and I will forward that email to you by PM.

    Hope this works out for you.
  14. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Beachguy,

    That boat is 950 bucks and is fully booked. For that kind of money, I'd rather fly. I talked to the skipper of the Wildcard when he sailed in this morning. He had 19 people on his boat coming up from Cartegena and said he might be able to squeeze me on and take me and the bike maybe for 950. He is already overbooked with 16 backpackers leaving the 16th or 17th and arriving in Cartegena week after next. That is crazy overbooked for a ship his size. No thanks. I'd rather fly. Plus he said there were 10-15 foot seas coming in. Hmmmm.

    And then two guys from New Jersey showed up this afternoon who had just been up to Colon and only found a cargo boat going part way for 400.00 including the bike. But then what? There are a crazy number of backpackers wanting to head south to Colombia right now. I can just see being stuck in the Kuna Yala.

    So I made an executive decision to head to Tocumen airport this side of Panama City and hit Girag on Monday morning and booked a flight for myself to Bogota on Tuesday.

    I'll be heading out with Matt and Robert from NJ and we'll split a room near the airport tomorrow night and hit Girag Monday morning at 9AM out at air cargo.

    I appreciate all the great suggestions. When you're down here there are no easy answers. The whole idea is to finally make it to South America. Now that I've made the decision to fly, I'm stoked. I'll be sending back photos of the whole process and be cranking and banking in the Colombian mountains before you know it.

    Thanks guys...You're the best,
    Juanito
  15. BeachGuy

    BeachGuy Alabama & Costa Rica

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    John you have made the right decision, go by air.

    Many years ago I had a Morgan 33' sailboat. The wife and three daughters and I spent 4 years sailing it from Louisiana throughout the Caribbean Islands. On our way back we hit three days of 10 to 12' foot seas and 15 to 20 knot winds. On the fourth day we made port. My wife and daughters took the dingy ashore to buy needed provisions while I stayed and cleaned the puke and vomit out of every nook and cranny.

    About 5 hours latter the harbormaster came alongside towing my dingy. He had a note from my bride of 22 years telling me that she hope she hadn't max out the credit card; but she bought 4 one way airline tickets home.

    The end of the note said something to the effect of go straight to hell and don't stop on the way. When I finally got the boat home they never sailed again. Sold the damn thing shortly thereafter.

    To this day if I say something that sounds like sailboat or open water adventure I get treated like the cat when it shows up with a dead mouse, maybe not even that good.

    Wishing you the best on your trip.
  16. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Quite a party going on tonight in Portobelo. The annual Conga Diablo festival. Here are some of the Conga folk:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Here are Robert and Matt who arrived on their KLRs this afternoon after striking out in Colon:

    [​IMG]

    and Roberts KLR parked next to the Sherpa at my outdoor office:

    [​IMG]

    I treated them to a fish dinner down at the local cantina. Really good eats. And then we walked off dinner exploring the old Spanish fort down at the bay. Here are the original canons:

    [​IMG]

    and Matt standing on the corner parapet against the night sky:

    [​IMG]

    Here are the locals whooping it up to some serious congas:

    [​IMG]

    The serious sounds were pumping out over in the park. I was getting a heart massage from the pounding my thoracic cavity was getting taking a picture of this van's sound system:

    [​IMG]


    They had ten cars and vans lined up under the big top in the park all playing synchronized tunes. The sound was the loudest I have ever heard. The crowd of hundreds was standing back 30 feet or so it was so loud. That's saying something in Latin America:

    [​IMG]

    This gal sitting in front of the van woofers must be Helen Keller's cousin:

    [​IMG]

    I walked around with Matt checking out the scene. Now I know what it feels like to be a black person in Nebraska.

    Unless some miracle cheap boat appears tomorrow, we're off in the morning for Tocumen airport. Should be fun.

    I spent 38.75 today on lodging, food, sodas and dinner.

    Hasta mañana,
    Juanito
  17. Hawk62cj5

    Hawk62cj5 2 Cheap 4 a KLR

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    The KLR has a hell of a milk create .

    Im used to that population makeup here in southern va , Id be right at home :D . I feel weird when I go west and its mostly white .
  18. OldPete

    OldPete Be aware

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    Super Fat indeed! :lol3


    [​IMG]

    Looking forward to the update from Colombia and the flight.
    Will hit your PP after touch down. Best to ya traveler. :thumb
  19. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    Considering all of the uncertainties concerning a possible trip by boat, I'm sure that you have made the correct decision! If I am ever able to make the trip south, I think I will fly myself down, and buy a Chinese 250 for about $1600 when I get there. I'd either sell it when done, or park it awaiting my eventual return!
  20. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Had a fun day today. Started out with Matt and Robert riding out to the airport and finding Girag. They aren't open on Sunday, but the office lady came to the door and informed us that they are booked for motorcycles until January 25th. Yikes!

    So that threw a monkey wrench into the plans. We decided to find a hotel and think over our options. I lost Matt and Robert in traffic. Hmmmm. Well maybe head out to Carti and see if the Stahlratte had room for a small bike like Throttlemeister suggested. I had time to think while I was riding so stopped in Cheppo at a copy shop to get duplicates of my aduana papers just in case they could take the bike.

    I really like the road to Carti so I would ride out there just for fun. Nothing else better to do today. Got out to the Kuna boys at the border and they let me through for free since I let them sign my tank the other day. They said 20 gringos had come through on bikes an hour ago. Holy cow! If it wasn't such a fun road I would have turned back right there. But I cranked through the roller coaster to the beach just in time to catch this fellow from Canada that I had met in Nicaragua wheel his bike into the panga for the ride out to the Stahlratte:

    [​IMG]

    here are the last three bikes waiting to be loaded:

    [​IMG]

    and loading up in the panga:

    [​IMG]

    and some riders hanging out on the beach. There was a lot of action. I asked the Stahlratte crewman if there was any way they could take another bike. Nein. They were loaded to the gills. Oh well. Nothing ventured nothing gained.

    Here are some riders hanging out on the beach:

    [​IMG]

    and the final load disappearing behind the Stahlratte:

    [​IMG]

    I decided to go out to the island of Carti and see if I could find Alan who is the man who knows what boats are coming through. I paid the 8 dollars for the ride out. While I was waiting I talked to this nice man who had just put a Chevy V-8 in his Toyota Landcruiser:

    [​IMG]

    Turns out he had the number for Cierra, the mythic captain of the Vya del Mar. He gave me the number and said he would call Cierra and let him know I needed a ride on his scow. Hmmm. Things are looking up. So I jumped into this water taxi:

    [​IMG]

    and headed out to the island of Carti.

    More pics loading.......
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