South America and back on a 250 Super Sherpa Minimalist Adventure

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

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  1. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Headed out to the island of Carti this afternoon:

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    here we are nearing the dock at the island:

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    and I met the two other gringos on the island who were also waiting for a boat to Colombia. A french backpacker and Kevin from Germany. They had been here for a couple days:

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    Here is Kevin's recumbent bike he is riding to Tierra del Fuego:

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    They said Alan had left for a few days, but he had told them there was a boat coming in a couple days that would take them to Puerto Obaldia for 100 bucks. Could it be the mythical Vya del Mar? Only time will tell. I stepped next door and had a Kuna woman fix me up a plate of rice, fish, plantains, beans and salad for 4.50 with a coke:

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    and walked around the island checking out the reed walls and thatched or tin roof houses:

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    Decided against waiting here for three days. And caught a boat back for 2 dollars:

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    Leaving Carti:

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    and the Stahlratte behind:

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    and heading back to land. Rode back to Chepo where I am currently typing this up on the counter of a computer store that is about to close using his wifi. Called the airlines and cancelled my flight using google.voice on the computer. Amazed it actually worked. The Indian man in Bangalore or somesuch had a hard time pronouncing Panama and Bogota as he was canceling my flight reservation.

    Now it's off to find a place to sleep tonight.

    More later…….
  2. Hektoglider

    Hektoglider One with Life

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    Sounds like a big log jam down there, hope you can make something happen.
  3. Dracula

    Dracula Deus ex machina

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    Hi John,

    This quest for Darien crossing is amazing. I wonder how long in advance one has to make reservations for a boat or flight of their moto. Based on info posted, from Girag it appears they are booked in advance for minimum 2 weeks, also from reading other Internet info seems some of these companies may not always offer full cancellation refund if any. Makes for some tough arrival planning or a wait game. Seems there's money that could be made in that business for a while as there will be no road in the near future, and am surprised more established frequent ships or air transport do not exist. Perhaps it's not such a great demand to justify or maybe only seasonal. I did a quick search and seems some folks posted on HUBB (including you:D) on related threads and some other boats incuding a planned ferry service were mentioned, some of which may have never materialized, so I guess you researched everything. But anyway I googled and seems there's a Captain Jack - Boatscolombia http://www.boatstocolombia.com/index.php/en/ web site that was also posted in ADV sometime last year, just in case. Appreciate you posting all the details, hope it all comes together somehow for you.:thumb

    Best,
    Vic
  4. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

    Joined:
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    So I rode from the Carribean to the Pacific to check out the airport. Then from the Pacific to the Carribean to check Carti, then back to the Pacific to catch the road north back to the Carribean where I just arrived at midnight in Portobelo.

    I made four trans-continental crossings in one day from one ocean to the next. Count 'em. That sounds quite impressive until you realize what a skinny noodle of a continent I was crossing.

    I am actually really enjoying all the twists and turns in this saga of getting to South America. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. It's almost like a fun game now.

    I feel like a grain of sand in an hour glass packed in with all the other traveler grains of sand. The Darien gap with its limited transport options is the tiny waist of the hour glass that constricts the flow of travelers down to South America in the bottom. Eventually if I am patient I'll make it through. I feel like I'm getting near the bottom and about ready to drop through. Just as an hourglass is powerless to resist gravity, the Darien is powerless to resist my desire to go to Colombia.

    I spent $42.55 on gas, food, water taxis, road tolls, internet and photocopies.

    Hasta Mañana,
    Juanito
  5. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi ex-MGB,

    Thanks for the donation! I'll put an asterisk by your name on the tank.

    One if by land, two if by sea were Paul Revere's options. I just have the sea this week you'll be glad to hear.

    Saludos,
    Juan Yachtie
  6. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi OldPete,

    It's people like you that make this continued saga possible. I'm pretty sure that's a good thing. Anyway, I appreciate your continued support. You'll know soon after I do when I touch down.

    Siempre,
    Juanito
  7. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi CC,

    I had thought of doing that. I think flying to South America and buying a small bike to explore the countryside makes a lot of sense.

    I still can't believe how clean your wife got my riding jacket. She's the best. Spray 'n Wash is going on my grocery list when I get home some day. I need all the help I can get when it comes to laundry technology. In the meantime I'll stick with black.

    Saludos,
    Juan
  8. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    Portland, OR
  9. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi PDX Alamo,

    Thanks for the link amigo!

    I met AK Smitty in Nicaragua. Top notch guy. I'm glad he made it. And nice to know about Taboosa air freight. I have never heard of them before.

    It is another early morning here in Portobelo and the seas are much calmer today. I've only been looking for a boat for a few days and am confident something will work out. It always does.

    Glad to have you aboard the Zombie Apocalypse Travel Agency as chief executive in charge of the Darien Transit Authority.

    Muchas gracias amigo,
    Juan Castaway
  10. GuateRider

    GuateRider Long timer

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    Hola John,
    after hiking around all over Guatemala for a couple of weeks with my sons , I just catched up with your RR. Seems like you keep on enjoying it big time :clap:clap:clap
    Just wanted you to know, that you didn't miss that much for not going to El Mirador . It's a long and boring hike, there are billions of tics and it still takes a lot of imagination to figure out how this once so big city looked like. It's still mostly covered and protected by the jungle .
    Saludos,
    Julio
  11. PDX Alamo

    PDX Alamo Been here awhile

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    That is an incredible road to the Kuna launch , unfortunaltley I did it in a cage; Thanks for bringing back the memories... I snapped this picture when we pulled over since several people in the car were going to puke :puke2

    [​IMG]
  12. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hola Julio,

    So good to hear from you! Nice to know that my El Mirador hiking fund was better spent over in El Salvador helping out Ed Zactamundo. Plus I was so glad to get to meet Mario, Bryce, Justin, Kurt and Cory for the ADVrider hospital party.

    Any time spent with the GuateRider family is a good time. You never know what a place is like until you go there. Thanks for reporting back. I will concentrate on other backroad adventures next time I'm in beautiful Guatemala.

    I am currently doing research for your next ride. Glad to have you along as always.

    Saludos mi amigo,
    Juan Panama
  13. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi PDX Alamo,

    Nice pic!

    That road is like a roller coaster. I am getting to know it like the back of my hand having gone back and forth a couple times. Really fun road even if you aren't looking for a boat. One of my favorite roads in Panama so far. Although the roads that Chiriqui Charlie took me on in the western highlands and the mountain riding on the Azuero Peninsula with Cmnthead and artist Phil were a hoot as well. Not to mention the winding road out here to Miramar on the Carribean coast. There is a lot of fun riding in Panama off the main highways.

    Thanks for taking the time to post up that killer hairpin. That same pic with you in it leaned over scraping the pegs with sparks flying would be front page material!

    Saludos amigo,
    Juan Castaway
  14. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Beautiful day here in Portobelo Panama. Talked to some older Canadian Yachties who have been stuck here waiting for the weather to clear for the past 9 days. They say a window of a week of good weather is opening up and they are taking off for the San Blas Islands tomorrow.

    I was able to call the Captain of the Vya del Mar this morning. Actually, i don't have a phone, so went to town and got a card to add minutes to the phone of a guy who works here at Captain Jack's Hostel where I am staying. He called and got a hold of the captain up in Colon harbor and asked if I could fit on his boat. He said yes. How much to Puerto Obaldia? Cien dolares ( a hundred bucks). Quanto questa pequeña moto? No se. ( how much for a small motorcycle. Not sure). He's not stopping in Miramar but will pick me up in Carti on Wednesday afternoon mas o menus (more or less).

    So it looks like I may be able to get on this boat the day after tomorrow. It sounds promising. We'll see. I'm going to ride over to Carti tomorrow afternoon and get the bike out to the island somehow and see what happens.

    At this point in time I am enjoying Panama and have resolved to patiently wait until something opens up. My whole desire is to encourage other riders to get out and ride even if they don't have much money. So I am actually glad the plane idea didn't work out yesterday. Taking a cheap boat to Colombia is more in keeping with the traveling on a shoestring theme of this ride.

    No pics today. Sorry. I hung out talking to interesting people all day. After riding all over the place yesterday it was nice to just sit and enjoy the day. I checked the weather in Bassett this morning and it was 20 below. This is in Centigrade since wunderground.com sees my computer is in Panama and doesn't do Fahrenheit here. Winter Nebraska temps in centigrade sound more badass than fahrenheit.

    I spent 26.30 today on food, lodging, and a phone card.

    Hasta mañana,
    Juan Panama
  15. Adv Grifter

    Adv Grifter on the road o'dreams

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    Good to hear you're hanging in for a Seaworthy and inexpensive boat. May the warm trade winds blow good fortune your way.

    I'm thinking about getting to Colombia too ... but from Galveston, Tx. Have you heard of any cheap transport from Texas? I could go Sea freight or Air ... but I imagine by ship would be cheaper.

    I've seen Central America ... so thinking of riding to Galveston, then shipping from there. Also looking into going into Venezuela .... no info yet. I know quite a lot of shipping traffic going back and forth. Any low dollar ideas?

    Cheers ... Rubber Side Down! :freaky
  16. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hi Adv Grifter,

    I noticed that rtwpaul is flying his bike back from Colombia to Miami for 900 bucks. That's the same price I would have paid yesterday to fly my bike from Panama to Colombia if Girag hadn't been booked for two weeks.

    I have no idea on Texas to Colombia or Venezuela prices. Sorry. If I find out anything I will sure let you know. I'll keep my ears open.

    You learn a lot about these things from other travelers on the road. It's never as easy as it sounds on the internet.

    As a sidenote, I was talking with two videographers who came up the Pacific side in launchas from Colombia to Panama last week and just arrived on the bus over here. Not much boat traffic over on the Pacific side. It sounded like a wild ride. If I bring my bike back north, that is the route I will take.

    Saludos,
    Juan Kuna
  17. JDowns

    JDowns Sounds good, let's go!

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    Hola mis amigos de aventura,

    I am currently at the last place with wifi before the cut-off to Carti down the Darien highway in Cheppo.

    If you don't hear from me for a few days to a week or so it means I caught a cargo boat and am in transit to Colombia.

    Of course, if you hear from me sooner it means I am enjoying the Darien still waiting for the Sherpa loveboat.

    Either way it should be interesting.

    All the best,
    Juanito Crusoe
  18. SavannahCapt

    SavannahCapt Long timer

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    Good luck on finding a ride!:thumb
  19. mario33

    mario33 Howling around...

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    Enjoying this RR ! and donated some to keep you riding... I'm still on page 30-something though...

    Greetings from distant Poland !

    mario33/M.Ozga
  20. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

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    Guru Juan,
    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    A lesser Gringo would throw in the towel. Would say f*ck this, stomp his feet and fly his stuff back home cursing all Mexicans and all of Mexico for ruining the trip. The Gringo would forget all the great adventures in route, forget the people and places. He would dwell: How could Airlines possibly be booked? The Stahlratte wouldn’t make room for me, :cry! There should be more boats leaving on a regular basis, double :cry :cry! 4 months of fun ruined by things not going “my way, on my schedule”.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    Now the ADV’er is a different breed, but you sir are an exception: above and beyond. The world has much to learn from you, and people like you.<o:p></o:p>
    <o:p> </o:p>
    I’m impatiently waiting for America Sur. :ddog

    Carry on! <o:p></o:p>
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