The Ultimate Ride - Brother and Sister Motorcycling Duo

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by UltiJayne, Jun 3, 2013.

  1. gunnerbuck

    gunnerbuck Island Hopper

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,140
    Location:
    N.V.I, B.C.
    Another one to follow... Good stuff
    #61
  2. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    Some of the steepest roads I have ever ridden on wind through the jungle leading to the Panamanian port of Carti. It was a gorgeous ride, on good paved roads, with just a few sections of gravel at the bottom of some of the hills.
    <dl id="attachment_5062" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">On the road to Carti</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5061" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A building being made out of sea containers appeared around a corner</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5060" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Chicken buses throughout Latin America are painted bright colours and designs, this is one we spotted on the way to Carti.</dd></dl>
    Our destination? The San Blas Islands, called Kuna Yala by the local indigenous Kuna Indians.


    The Kuna are a remarkable population. They are the only indigenous people I know of who have managed to maintain their sovereignty. Panama certainly has tried to take them over, but failed and they reached a treaty in 1925.


    The Kuna charge $10 a person to drive through their land to Carti plus $3 a bike. That was a pretty big hit for us, but not a lot more than other national parks have charged.
    <dl id="attachment_5064" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The $10 a person charge has been around for a while, they decided to add the "per car" charge afterwards...</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5063" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The "toll booth" at the entrance to Kuna territory.</dd></dl>
    We arrived in Carti without much of a plan. Max in Nicaragua had told us that it was very beautiful and we would want to spend time there, and that we should be able to get boats between the various islands fairly easily. That's all we knew.


    Carti is a very primitive port, with a few concrete docks, a rough parking lot and a couple of ramshackle buildings. We eventually established that there are in fact two parking lots, and that it is much cheaper to park and the people are much friendlier in the one a few hundred meters further along the potholed dirt track. The closer one has been "ruined" by tourism, as it is where all tourists wanting to visit the islands are dropped off.


    After talking to most of the Kunas and some Panamanian border police filling a large boat filled with barrels with a truckload of gasoline, we negotiated parking the bikes under a shelter, and a ride to a local island for $20. We didn't know which island we were going to - but that didn't seem important.
    The Kunas suddenly decided it was time to go, so we had to quickly finish packing our duffle bags with whatever we might need, cover the bikes and jump in the boat, which had suddenly filled with a combination of Kuna ladies in traditional dress, Kuna men in western dress, and tourists.


    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc5d7v0Y9Os]
    <dl id="attachment_5065" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Excited to be heading to an island...</dd></dl>
    We pulled up to a beautiful, posh looking island. It was small, covered in white sand and palm trees, and had an archway at the end of the dock stating that it was "private property". Phil and I immediately were weary of what staying on this kind of an island was going to cost us.
    <dl id="attachment_5068" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A very nice island</dd></dl>
    Especially when a family of tourists started unloading their baby pushchair onto a sand island... Needless to say they didn't get far before they had to pick the whole lot up.
    <dl id="attachment_5067" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Shortest stroller ride ever.</dd></dl>

    We didn't have to worry, because the Kunas told us to stay in the boat, this wasn't our island - we were going home with them.
    <dl id="attachment_5069" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Once the "tourists" had disembarked, we were left with just our new Kuna family</dd></dl>
    Our new home was an island called "Carti Tupile", one of four heavily populated islands in close proximity, each called Carti with another word afterwards to distinguish them from each other.


    The man we had negotiated our passage with told us we could put up our tent in front of his house, which happened to be beside the dock, the school, one of the only water taps and somewhat of a main gathering place on the island.
    <dl id="attachment_5070" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Our audience gathers...</dd></dl>
    As we put the tent up a crowd of fascinated children gathered around us. Their faces lit up when I invited them all to crawl inside. I tried to tell them a story about Canada, but my Spanish was lacking. They found the concept of snow very exciting.
    <dl id="attachment_5071" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">It snows where we come from children...</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5052" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Tent blends right in. Community shop on the left - each adult on the island takes turns working there for 15 day slots.</dd></dl>
    Darkness was falling as a son of the man who let us camp outside his house took us on a walk around the island. It takes about 2 minutes to walk from one side of the island to the other, where there is a basketball court.


    As soon as we stepped onto the basketball court I was nearly bowled over by a gaggle of children running up and grabbing hold of my legs. I was led to a circle of more children, where I was promptly pulled into a game of "Pato Pato Ganso" which I quickly discovered is "Duck Duck Goose" in Spanish. They also kept giving me spoonfuls of a sweet, molasses-like goo, which they had in the bottom half of a sawn off coca-cola bottle. They called it "miel" which means honey - but it definitely wasn't from bees!
    <dl id="attachment_5056" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A couple girls with their sticky treats</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5072" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Duck... Duck...</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5040" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Many children were looking after their siblings around the island</dd></dl>
    In all our travels I have not met such friendly, generous, loving, joyful children as those we met in Kuna Yala. Unlike many children we come across, they never once asked us for money, or anything else.
    <dl id="attachment_5042" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">These boys were catching tiny fish with a small scrap of fishing net they found</dd></dl>
    They just wanted us to play with them, which we were very happy to do. They are also all bilingual, they learn both Spanish and the Kuna language at school. They speak Kuna at home, and Spanish with outsiders like us.
    <dl id="attachment_5041" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">I know we're not supposed to choose favourites, but this smiley sweetheart was mine.</dd></dl>
    That evening we also met the group of men constructing a building over the water beside the basketball court. We soon found out that it is to be a Mormon church. I found this surprising, and asked if there were many Mormons on the island, which they told me there were.
    <dl id="attachment_5076" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The construction workers leaving to go home for the weekend.</dd></dl>
    The next day we spent playing with the children and Phil's new friend Ahmed organised a canoe so that he and his two friends could paddle us over to see the other islands.
    <dl id="attachment_5044" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">On our way to the other Carti islands</dd></dl>

    <dl id="attachment_5058" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Beach side property</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5077" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The main "street" on the biggest island</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5079" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A glimpse at the Kuna writing on the schoolhouse wall</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5078" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">After many attempts outside the clinic, this was the only jumping shot with everyone in the air.</dd></dl>
    When Phil first met Ahmed another of the locals took me aside and warned me that Ahmed wasn't trustworthy, so we should be careful around him. The next day a different man told us the same thing.
    <dl id="attachment_5073" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Ahmed at the bottletop checkers table</dd></dl>
    We found this confusing, as Ahmed was extremely friendly and helpful and we never found any indication of him being untrustworthy. He made bread for the community and gave us some for free when I expressed an interest in tasting it.


    The reticence may be a reflection of the racism we had been told is rife in Kuna culture. Ahmed was only half Kuna, and the Kuna do not approve of marriages outside of Kuna culture.


    It rained very heavily during the day while Phil was playing an epic soccer game with the kids. The construction workers had offered that we could move our tent under the cover of the church roof, we decided to take them up on that offer to avoid having to pack the tent up wet.
    <dl id="attachment_5038" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">This game lasted for hours</dd></dl>
    Moving the tent became a community activity. Everyone wanted to help.
    <dl id="attachment_5047" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Tent moving procession</dd></dl>
    Once we moved to the construction site, I solved the "miel mystery". All the children were running around with various containers of the sugary molasses they had been feeding me the night before. I couldn't believe that all the mothers on the island approved of their children gorging on pure sugar, but that seemed to be the case, until I spotted a line of children with the construction workers spooning it out of a five gallon container. It was unrefined cane sugar, and the island's children had manged to gobble five gallons of it in just under a week!

    <dl id="attachment_5075" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Children with the sugar cane syrup bucket</dd></dl>
    Island living comes with its challenges. Aside from the need to have a generator if you want electricity (many homes did not have one). All the toilets are outhouses on stilts with holes that lead directly into the sea. Carti Tupile had a supply of fresh water gained by laying pipes from the mainland through the sea, but we were to learn that most of the islands did not have this luxury. There was a constant flow of boats with an assortment of containers being filled up at the communal tap, and then floating off to other islands.
    <dl id="attachment_5082" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Uncomfortably direct route to the sea...</dd></dl>
    The sea around the islands was filled with garbage. I am becoming more and more against plastic packaging the more I travel. It blights landscapes in every country, and here in an island paradise, it was the worst. Glass and aluminum sink and degrade. Plastic does not.


    Having spent two nights living with the Kuna, it was time to go further out and explore some more of the 365 islands in the chain. We packed up our tent and said goodbye to our construction worker friends. At the dock, we asked around for a boat going to El Porvenir.
    <dl id="attachment_5050" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">One way to get your boat into the sea...</dd></dl>
    El Porvenir is the only island on the San Blas that has immigration and customs offices. It has a small airstrip, and every yacht that enters and leaves the San Blas islands is supposed to check in and out there.


    We had two reasons for wanting to go there. Firstly, our bike import papers expired on the 22 August, which was "only" two weeks away. We wanted to ask the customs man about how to extend our permits. Secondly Max had told us that El Porvenir was a great place to hang out and talk to the boat captains that came in.
    <dl id="attachment_5055" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Popular Kuna transport</dd></dl>
    We knew that we needed to get to Colombia eventually, that we'd need to take a boat of some description, and that if we took an organised "backpacker" boat, it was going to cost us $1000. Each!


    We were determined to find another way and get a better price. Other than putting a post on the Couchsurfing "Boat hitchhikers" group, El Porvenir was to be our first research into other options.


    The best price we could negotiate was for an elderly man to take us for $20. When he pulled up to the dock paddling a large dugout canoe, I was worried. It would take a very long time to paddle to El Porvenir! As usual, I shouldn't have worried, for a few minutes later he struggled over to the boat carrying a large outboard motor.
    <dl id="attachment_5059" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Our captain at the helm</dd></dl>
    After about a 30 minute boat ride, we pulled up to El Porvenir.


    We didn't know what it would be, but it was time to wait for our next boat to come in.
    [​IMG]
    #62
  3. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,928
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonger, CA
    one day...... one day i will no longer sit here in this swivelly chair and stare at my fancy monitor while plucking away on my neat plastic keyboard. no, one day i will get up from this 5 way adjustable rolling masterpiece of asia-european craftsmanship and never return to it......

    but in the mean-time, thank you for the wonderful RR! :freaky
    #63
  4. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    You are most welcome.

    Whilst that swivelly chair DOES sound amazing, I can guarantee you your motorcycle seat, even after it's been compounded by your butt for 40,000km, is way more amazing. :clap

    Come join us... Come to the dark side....
    #64
  5. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,928
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonger, CA
    responsibilities, bills, the daily commute....my boss' handsome face! haha, you make it sound soo easy!

    i am drawn to the dark side.. :p
    #65
  6. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    It's not easy, but it's worth it!
    #66
  7. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    "Do you have change for a twenty?" the man asked me in a distinct English accent as he emerged from the customs and immigration building on the small island of El Porvenir and spotted me sitting on the curb beside the path.


    "I don't but I know someone who does. Come with me." I replied as I led him over the the tall, unbelievably hairy beast (also known as my brother) sitting under a tree writing in his journal.


    "This is my brother Phil, he has two ten dollar bills. Phil this is..." I paused and looked expectantly at my new friend.


    "Phil? My name is Phil too. Nice to meet you."
    <dl id="attachment_5152" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The captain floating with his yacht in the background</dd></dl>
    That was the beginning of a glorious friendship. We spent the next 12 days sailing the San Blas islands with Captain Phil and his lovely girlfriend Julia aboard their 38 foot sailboat called "Diva". They had met in Jamaica, and recently set out on a Caribbean sailing adventure together.


    We had arrived on El Porvenir an hour or two earlier. I had been expecting something more than a tiny island, with a sandy airstrip and a few small, scattered buildings. It was easy to identify the main building as the immigration and customs building, and within a few minutes we had signed in, and spoken to the customs man about our bike permits. He couldn't extend them for us, but he promised that even if we left a few days after they expired, he would still stamp our bikes out of the country for us. He was the entire San Blas customs office, so we needn't worry about getting someone else.


    With that settled, all we needed was a boat heading to another island. We'd heard that the Holandes Cays were beautiful and Max had said there was a grocery boat that went out there, maybe we could find it and get a ride?


    There was nothing we could do but wait and see what the universe provided.


    There's a special combination of feelings when you just leave everything to fate. On one hand you feel fear. Fear of not finding a boat, of being stuck on a small island with white sandy beaches and palm trees. Right, well the fear in this case wasn't terrible, but still a little uncomfortable. However, much stronger and better, is the feeling of excitement, of not knowing what's going to happen, but being pretty sure it's going to be amazing.


    And if it all goes wrong? Well it'll make a great blog post at the very least.


    The first people we spoke to were a British couple, who were checking out of the San Blas and heading to Cartagena because their boat had been hit by lightning - twice! They said they would have happily taken us with them, but we weren't ready to go to Colombia yet, and, of course, like annoying children that you can't just abandon because you love them so much, we couldn't jump on a boat to Colombia without our darling motorcycles.
    A few groups of rich looking people got out of helicopters and onto yachts while we were sitting there. I initiated conversations with all of them, with varying degrees of success. Some Venezuelans were hosting some Panamanian friends for the weekend and were interested in our journey, and some American girls from Panama City with tiny dogs weren't interested in chatting at all.


    After a rain shower that sent us running for cover, and a couple hours of waiting for any boat that was going to any other island and the captain willing to talk to us, Captain Phil asked me for change.


    When we told him about our trip, that we were riding motorbikes (he rides too), that we were Canadian, and that we were looking for a lift to another island, he smiled and said that he'd love to take us, but we'd have to talk to his girlfriend Julia. They'd just arrived from Cartagena, were planning to spend a couple of weeks at least in the San Blas, and were in need of some company after so many days being just the two of them on board.


    We went inside the immigration building where Julia was waiting her turn to check in. We took to each other instantly. Julia is lovely, our age, really friendly, Canadian, and even after having only met us for two minutes, was keen to invite us on board.
    <dl id="attachment_5128" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The beautiful Julia enjoying the sunshine</dd></dl>
    Our ship had come in.


    I explained that we had a tent and so they could just drop us on whichever island they anchored near and we'd camp on the beach.


    This plan lasted until about five minutes after the paperwork was finished and we all piled into "Likkle Boat", their dingy, and were welcomed on board Diva. The beers came out, and Captain Phil and Julia decided they could make room for us to sleep on board.
    <dl id="attachment_5137" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">One of the many times we all piled into the dingy</dd></dl>
    Living on a boat is somewhat similar to living on motorcycles. You are limited in what you can bring, you move around the world at will, and you spend a lot of time with the people you are travelling with.
    <dl id="attachment_5115" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Me and my new forever friend. I love this chick!</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5113" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Even micro-Kelly made a new friend aboard Diva</dd></dl>
    Whilst Captain Phil and Julia had more room for "stuff" than we do on the bikes, we have the luxury of riding to a shop, restaurant or bar whenever we want. They need to stock up on everything for weeks at a time. Luckily for us, they had just been to Panama City the day before we met them, and Captain Phil had bought 14 flats of beer as part of their supplies.
    Diva doesn't have a watermaker, so all drinking water has to be brought onboard from shore, and electricity is only available from the solar panels or by running the engine to charge the batteries.


    We could not have planned a better trip through the San Blas. The four of us became good friends almost from the second we met. Julia and I would chat and read whilst the Phils played epic matches of Backgammon washed down with bottles of rum.
    <dl id="attachment_5141" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Where the Phil's spent their evening hours</dd></dl>
    Julia wrote a blog post a few days after we joined them where she introduced us to the world as their new "boat pets". (They had adopted a cat and then a dog fish at previous anchorages.) This became a running joke for the remainder of our stay with them. We loved being boat pets!
    <dl id="attachment_5119" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">My favourite picture from the whole trip. The four of us with Diva in the background.</dd></dl>
    We anchored in five different places, all over the San Blas. We even managed enough wind to hoist the sails a couple of times.
    <dl id="attachment_5150" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Diva hanging out in the San Blas</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5117" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Julia and I stroll under coconut palms.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5118" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">J, J &P in the water. Taken by the other P</dd></dl>
    The San Blas islands are a picture postcard paradise. White sand islands dotted with coconut palms, warm, clear blue water with lots of fish and coral to see, if you care to put on a mask and snorkel. We were blessed with perfect sunny weather, and when it did rain, we used it as an opportunity to get out the soap and shower on deck.
    <dl id="attachment_5122" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">It didn't rain much, but when it did, it RAINED.</dd></dl>
    In the East Holandes (known to yachties as "the Lagoon") we befriended all the other yachts at anchor. We visited Lorenzo and Joyce on board their converted shrimp boat "Eileen Farrell" and wondered at the size of their kitchen.
    <dl id="attachment_5135" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Our neighbours, Eileen Farrel the converted shrimp boat</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5134" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Joyce in her giant kitchen</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5106" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">At 8:30am every morning we would listen to the Panama Connection Net on the SSB radio. Unfortunately we didn't have a transmitter so couldn't check in.</dd></dl>
    Phil swam over to some of our other neighbours, and we met our favourite voice from the radio - Tony on Pavo Real!
    <dl id="attachment_5151" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">To get to shore from anchor we either swam, or took Likkle Boat</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5133" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Snorkeling in the clear blue sea</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5121" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Another beautiful San Blas sunset</dd></dl>

    One evening Aussies Roger and Sasha from the catamaran Ednbal (aboriginie for frog) organised a big BBQ on a small sand island, complete with space trash!
    <dl id="attachment_5136" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Captain prepares our lobster to BBQ with garlic butter for dinner</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5138" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A pretty big gathering for an island in the middle of nowhere</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5139" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">BBQ fire on the sand island with all the yachties.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5140" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Captain Phil with a piece of space debris from a rocket ship</dd></dl>
    After an amazing week or so aboard, we started to run low on water and supplies, so made a trip to civilization to stock up.
    <dl id="attachment_5142" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Filling all Diva's drinking water bottles through a special filter from the Kuna water tap on the dock at Rio Azucar</dd></dl>

    <dl id="attachment_5144" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Julia and Captain Phil told us about this chicken and chips place for days before we actually got to enjoy it.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5143" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Loading the supplies into the dingy</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5145" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil and all the beer we bought to replenish supplies</dd></dl>

    Once we had fully re-stocked on essentials (we did buy groceries as well, I promise mum). We headed off to another group of islands called the "Coco Banderas".
    [​IMG]


    <dl id="attachment_5125" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Julia at the helm</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5129" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Captain Phil is an excellent cook and we enjoyed the fruits of his labours at least twice a day.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5126" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil reeling in a shark</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5127" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The only picture of the shark Phil caught before it broke the line and got away</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5124" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Until not so many years ago the Kuna used coconuts as money. DO NOT steal coconuts from the San Blas. They will happily sell them to you if you ask.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5149" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The Phils compete at beach boules. Lots of water hazards!</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5120" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Look what we found under the sea!</dd></dl>

    There's a lot of work to be done aboard a boat as well. Constant maintenance and little everyday jobs to be done.
    <dl id="attachment_5148" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil helps me fix his sewing machine. Our sail project didn't get far.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5097" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The anchor winch had broken, so the Phils had to pull up the anchor using only elbow grease</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5130" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Boat scrubbing team hard at work</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5132" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil shows off his big brush</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5114" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The Captain/Chef puts us to work</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5123" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The Captain gives himself a haircut</dd></dl>
    During our sailing adventure in paradise I received an email from a fellow couchsurfer who had seen my post looking for suggestions on how to get ourselves and two motorbikes to Colombia. Richard was working as the captain of a heavy works sailboat, currently moored in Panama, and planning to sail to Cartagena in the next week or so from a marina near Colon. Nothing was set in stone, but it was our best offer so far.


    Our bike papers were about to expire, and as we hadn't found a boat to take us from Carti, this meant we needed to head back into Panama City to renew them.


    We didn't want to leave Diva and our new friends, but it was time. We found a helpful Kuna man to take us in his motorboat to his home in Rio Azucar, the closest island with more than just a couple of shacks on it, where we could camp overnight and then take the 5:30am boat back to Carti.
    <dl id="attachment_5108" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Captain Phil and Julia waving goodbye as we pull away. Leaving our new friends was very difficult after such a wonderful time sailing the San Blas.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5109" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Feeling blue after leaving Diva, Julia and Captain Phil.</dd></dl>
    His payment? First we gave him $15 but then we showed him the two four metre brightly coloured pieces of fabric I had bought in Panama city for $10 with the intention of making sails for Kuna canoes. Our attempts at making sails one afternoon were short lived, and we wanted to know if he knew anyone who might want the fabric. He promptly gave us back the $15 and kept the fabric.
    <dl id="attachment_5105" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Two Kuna ladies in traditional dress. They have beads up both arms and legs and gold rings through their noses as well as the traditional brightly coloured clothing.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5110" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Giving the local kids photography lessons</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5103" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil the human playground</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5104" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Another campsite in the middle of a Kuna Village</dd></dl>
    After an evening playing with the children on the island, we woke up early and squeezed into the last two spots in the boat to Carti. For $15 each we travelled for two hours back to where our bikes were safely waiting for us.
    <dl id="attachment_5111" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">On the final boat ride back to Carti</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5112" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">I felt enormous relief when we got back to Carti after leaving Jugs and Cricket there for TWO WEEKS, and they were still there. The invisibility cloaks did good.</dd></dl>
    This is Julia's photo blog about our time with them in the San Blas with them.


    Our island adventure was over, but our lives on boats were just beginning...
    #67
  8. BitesTheDust

    BitesTheDust Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Oddometer:
    197
    Location:
    Mission, BC
    Excellent RR. :thumbup
    #68
  9. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    If you've been following us, you'll realise this post is a little out of order... It'll all make sense eventually. -Jayne

    On the 3rd of September, 2013 I had to say goodbye again. It feels like I am always saying goodbye to wonderful people who have enriched my life, and it gets more and more difficult each time.


    I am trying to remind myself that the difficulties of saying goodbye are the result of making wonderful new friends, and of course I do not ever want to give that up. However after over a year of goodbyes to people, few of whom I am likely to ever see again, I am feeling the strain.


    We spent two days traversing the Panama Canal on a 60 foot catamaran with an amazing family. Adam and Bronwyn have two beautiful children, Jack (10) and Amy (8), who I completely fell on love with. Adam, Bronwyn and their brother-in-law Volker are delivering the boat from South Africa to Australia, and we volunteered to be line handlers to help with their canal crossing.


    <dl id="attachment_5195" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The 5th Child canal transit crew and one of our advisers</dd></dl>
    Every boat that traverses the canal needs to have four line handlers aboard. Along with the official "adviser" who comes aboard just before you enter the canal.
    <dl id="attachment_5183" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Amy</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5174" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Jack in one of his favourite positions.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5173" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Beautiful Bronwyn</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5175" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Adam hard at work in the pizza kitchen</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5206" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Volker making us pizzas</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5209" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 480px" data-mce-style="width: 480px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">5th Child the eco-catamaran</dd></dl>
    We were joined by Marty, a Australian boat Captain who was also at the Shelter Bay Marina where we met the Norris family. Adam knows Marty from Australia and asked him to come along to help too.
    <dl id="attachment_5166" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Marty at the helm with the adviser, well, advising.</dd></dl>
    Our crew of six plus the kids spent the weekend preparing and relaxing before our set crossing time Monday afternoon. We even had a big BBQ one evening and Bev and Handre came and spun fire for us all when it got dark.
    <dl id="attachment_5197" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Everyone chips in to stop the fire from burning a hole in the bottom of the BBQ</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5198" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Must be hot in the middle there!</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5201" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Handre and Bev show off their skills</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5200" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Love the reflection in the pool</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5202" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The kids at the BBQ and fire show</dd></dl>
    In this time Jack and Amy became my best friends, we went swimming several times a day, painted our nails, played games on our iPods, ate ice cream and generally had a great time.
    <dl id="attachment_5204" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Amy and I are finger twins</dd></dl>
    Jack and Amy are extraordinary children, they've spent seven years of their short lives living on boats. They fearlessly ask new people insightful questions, are open to every new experience and are very intelligent.
    <dl id="attachment_5186" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The kids hanging on the front of the cat while underway</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5196" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Amy and Phil making faces</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5187" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Jack steals a kiss while I'm not looking</dd></dl>
    I enjoyed being a kid again, seeing the world through their eyes, and being reminded how simple life can be if you just let it.
    <dl id="attachment_5205" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The girls making mojitos (no rum for the kids)</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5172" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil and Marc (the engineer on Marty's boat) at cocktail hour on 5th Child</dd></dl>
    Also in those few days I started getting to know Marty and found myself very attracted to him. I am learning that I find gorgeous, passionate, independent entrepreneurs irresistible. Who doesn't?
    <dl id="attachment_5207" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Marty and I approach the first set of locks from the "trampoline" on the front of the cat.</dd></dl>
    As well as captaining sailboats, Marty has also designed a product that is both simple and effective. He showed it to me and I am going to help him patent it, which means I can't say anything more about it. Yet.


    Recently I have been a part of several conversations with people about what makes a person attractive. It's a very interesting subject.


    In Colombia I've been told men search for women with light skin, who cook and clean, and try to avoid ones who are just after their money. Women who don't have jobs are trying to find a man to look after them. I am fairly sure that the above applies in many more jurisdictions than just Colombia!


    Many of the men I've been speaking with however keep claiming to want an independent woman, with a career and her own money. They then struggle to properly articulate what they have to offer such a woman.


    When asked what Canadian and British women look for in a man, I found myself unable to give a lucid answer.


    Having now given the subject some consideration, aside from "tall and handsome", I am sure I cannot speak for all Canadian women, or any wider than just my own experience. I find that difficult enough to quantify.


    Travelling has taught me about myself, relationships, and the kind of people I respect, can spend quality time with and fall in love with. Or maybe it's just allowed me the right mindset to discover what I already knew.


    I compiled the list below, inspired by things people keep telling me are important to them, along with a few of my very own.




    Jayne's random list of things she finds attractive in a person (men in particular, but I think these apply to people I'd like to surround myself with in general):

    - Passionate about something (ideally not just work). This can be anything a sport, a hobby, travel, animals, whatever
    - Travellers with wandering spirits
    - Good with people (has friends and makes friends easily)
    - Capable. Can fix things, cook, and most of all learn new things
    - Gets along with family (their own and mine)
    - Tells/shows me they like me. May seem obvious but this one stems from many conversations. There is something very special about being liked by another human being for who you are. And we often don't clearly express to the people around us how much we like them. (Usually caused by fear/shyness/worry about rejection). When someone tells you that they really like you, it immediately makes you like them more
    - Entrepreneurs - I find a people who take risks to profit from something they've built themselves extremely attractive. Perhaps because that's a direction I am interesting in exploring myself
    - Patient or at least slow to anger. I think this one more reflects my aversion to angry people
    - Intelligent, open minded and worldly


    Now I've written previously about falling in love, and how I am now falling in love with people all the time, and am a better person for it. I fell in love with the Norris family and was very sorry to leave them. They have a farm in Tasmania and I hope to visit them there when I am next in Australia.


    The crossing was a really special experience. Phil and I have a great love for locks, and actually being on a boat, helping to keep it in the middle of each of the six locks while the combined forces of water and gravity worked to spin it in circles or crash it against the sides, was amazing.


    We went half way through on Monday afternoon, and then stayed overnight in Lake Gatun, before doing the second half Tuesday morning.


    Once we made it back to Panama City, Marty, Phil and I took a taxi back to Shelter Bay, where our boat/bikes were waiting for us.
    <dl id="attachment_5170" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Sabatayn, Marty and Marc's home, like a fish out of water.</dd></dl>




    Here is our crossing, in pictures:
    <dl id="attachment_5182" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">My beautifully prepared rope, ready for tying to the monkey's fist once it's been flung from the shore.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5193" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Placing mattresses to stop the lock workers from breaking the solar panels by throwing the heavy monkey's fists on them.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5203" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">5th Child is made of carbon fiber, even the four bathrooms.</dd></dl>

    <dl id="attachment_5194" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">This one's for you mum. Phil's mouth is excited to be in the lock</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5192" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Bronwyn at the helm while I handle my line</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5190" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil holding onto his line with Adam supervising</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5188" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Even submarines transit the canal!</dd></dl>

    <dl id="attachment_5185" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The giant doors waiting to be installed in the new locks that are under construction</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5168" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Line handling and jumping.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5208" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 646px" data-mce-style="width: 646px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">5th Child in the Miraflores Locks captured by webcam</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5167" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">I've got my line handled. Note the crowd watching on the balcony of the visitor's center behind me.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5165" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Phil and a lock</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5169" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The Canal adviser gets picked up after his shift</dd></dl>
    #69
  10. vintagespeed

    vintagespeed fNg

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,928
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonger, CA
    i never considered how much work was involved in sailing through a locke, good to know! :D

    earlier in the RR you, or Phil, mentioned the lockes you played around as children can you elaborate on that?
    #70
  11. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    The locks we played in as children were on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa, Canada. We had an inflatable dingy and spent hours in the lock going up and down. The lock master was very kind to let us float around. Much smaller locks than on the Panama Canal - but then we were much smaller too!
    #71
  12. Overcomb3

    Overcomb3 Icy PUMA

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2013
    Oddometer:
    33
    Location:
    Bay Area
    I can't believe how excited I get when I find a new post from you. Your attitudes and general love of life have me completely wrapped around your fingers. Please never end this trip. I'm learning more than I'm able to convey.

    Thank you
    Thank you
    Thank you!!!

    Much love & admiration.
    #72
  13. ChazW

    ChazW Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I'm just getting back into riding and bought a dual sport bike a year ago. With kids in college and a spouse that is too fearful for an adventure like this, I guess I'll need to wait a few years, until the stars align for a long trip. Your ride report is a great read and I appreciate you taking the time to post your adventures.

    Be safe!

    Best Wishes!
    #73
  14. OldTriumphRider

    OldTriumphRider Livin the Dream

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2009
    Oddometer:
    240
    Location:
    Friendsville ,Tn ...Smoky Mts
    Just found your excellent R.R. I will learn from your adventures.. :clap
    #74
  15. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    Thank you Overcomb3! It's so great to know that people actually read what we're writing. :D

    Can't promise to never end the trip - unless you know how to grow a money tree!
    #75
  16. UltiJayne

    UltiJayne Sister on a KLR

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2012
    Oddometer:
    74
    Location:
    Calgary, Alberta
    Thanks Chaz!

    We've met a few riders who do the trip on their bike, and their other halves just fly down and meet them at the "good bits" (little do they know that the whole adventure is the "good bit"). Maybe try suggesting that to your wife. :D
    #76
  17. Cam805

    Cam805 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 29, 2012
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Ventura County, California
    Phil and Jayne, it's coming up on a year since we saw you in La Ventana. Turns out K and I are headed to Mancora Peru at the end of November. Depending on how long you spend in Ecuador, maybe we will see you there?

    Keep living the dream

    Cam
    #77
  18. advFord

    advFord Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2012
    Oddometer:
    538
    Location:
    Orange County, CA
    Just beginning following your journey! I'm only two weeks into mine heading south. I hadn't thought about spending time in Kuna villages but might try to make that happen after reading about your experience. safe travels!
    #78
  19. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    Back in Canada
    Hey Cam!
    Crazy that it's been a year!! It would be fantastic to meet up, timing might be a bit tough, as we're trying to hit Machu Picchu by mid November.
    I'll be in touch.

    Phil
    #79
  20. Wump

    Wump aka Mister Wisker

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2013
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    Back in Canada
    Crossing the Darien Gap isn't easy. There's no road, (I double checked) so you can't ride, thus the options are to fly or to sail. Flying costs about 700$ per bike, plus whatever it costs for you. There are many sailboats that take bikes, but they cost over 1000$. Each. To travel about 200 nautical miles. So I suppose I should rephrase: crossing the Darien gap for an affordable price, with a motorcycle, isn't easy. Not easy and time consuming, but possible. Jayne and I have more time than money, and we managed to find a way. So this is the tale of how Jayne, Phil, Cricket and Jugs found a boat to cross the Darien Gap...


    13 August 2013: Jayne receives a reply from Richard to her post on a Couchsurfing "boat hitchhiking" forum. Richard is the Captain on a boat that has deck space, is leaving from Panama and going to Cartagena, Colombia for a 'salvage job'. If they will make landfall before doing the job, we are welcome aboard! Many details, including when the boat will sail and what it will cost, to be determined. But we have a potential affordable boat!


    August 21, 2013: Jayne and I return from our stint as boat pets in the San Blas, and ride back to Panama. Our temporary import permits and insurance expire tomorrow so need to be renewed. A great explanation on how to do this is here, so I won't bother parroting. Note: You MUST get the insurance first. Your fake (or real valid-around-the-world) insurance won't suffice, the aduana will only accept Panamanian insurance. Of course everything takes Latin-America type time. For us it took 5 hours over two days, because paperwork takes time, the offices close at 4pm, and there is Panama traffic to navigate between them. Ugh.
    <dl id="attachment_5255" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Dear Panama, we would like to stay inside you for longer, pretty please.</dd></dl>
    August 22, 2013: Hit and miss attempts to connect with Captain Richard of our potential boat. The tentative plan had been to meet up at a bar to discuss details and get to know each other. We didn't connect. Jayne and I did connect with Steve and Karen again however, and that was a beautiful slice staying with them for a couple days.
    <dl id="attachment_5261" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Balcony of bliss starring Steve and Karen.</dd></dl>
    August 24, 2013: Jayne and I decide to head to Shelter Bay Marina, near Colon, where the boat is located. There we can hang out somewhere new, get to know the marina and potentially meet other folks headed to Colombia in case this boat falls through. Unable to contact Captain Richard, who has changed flights and hence wasn't answering his phone because, well, he still wasn't in the country. This means the boat isn't leaving right away, but we learn the boat owner Captain Marc is aboard, so perhaps we'll meet him. We still don't know the boat's name though.


    This evening our plan was to camp, but after some drinks were invited aboard the 'Ingwe Spirit' owned by Bev and Handre, a fantastic couple from South Africa. Aboard their catamaran a great fiesta developed, and we would later gladly accept the offer to stay the night aboard. The Ingwe Spirit had been struck by lightning and was in Shelter Bay for full electronics repairs. They had been in the marina for repairs prior, and had only just left when they were struck by lightning springing them right back in again.
    <dl id="attachment_5263" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Bev and I had to, it's vodka. It goes bad once it's been opened.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5248" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Start the day off right with Ceasars, with Jayne, Bev n' Handre.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5269" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Nano, aka "ipod" hangs loose with Handre.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5250" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Gaston right where he likes to be, the meat in a Handre n' Jayne Sandwich.</dd></dl>
    August 26, 2013: The party with Bev and Handre elapsed itself over two nights, now including new marina friends Nano and Gaston. Argentinian and Mexican respectively, they too were heading south planning to buy motos in Venezuela after delivering a couple sailboats to Bocas del Toro. Meeting new friends was fantastic and was a blast to have a solid marina fiesta...
    But we came here to take a boat to Colombia. Remembering this, Jayne found out the name of the boat from Richard: the "Crazy Horse".
    <dl id="attachment_5307" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">A first glimpse of the "Crazy Horse"</dd></dl>
    Boat name in hand Jayne then wandered over to meet the owner, Captain Marc. She negotiated hard for the price of 350$ each for passage, basically helping cover fuel costs, and found out that if all goes to plan we load up the bikes and set sail tomorrow! My hangover decreased as the heavy rains dwindled in the afternoon, and I too met Captain Marc and his crew Diane of the Crazy Horse. The boat is large and has plenty of deck space for the bikes. Perfect!
    The full plan, now already slightly modified since the morning: pick up Captain Richard and his lady friend Crystal in the morning from Panama, load the bikes in the afternoon and set sail the next morning. Marc wanted his friend Richard along as Marc hadn't sailed his own boat yet, and Richard had been his delivery Captain to sail the boat from Florida down to Panama.
    <dl id="attachment_5239" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Bev and Handre kindly put us up for another night and we watched movies into our slumber.</dd></dl>

    August 27, 2013: Cooked breakfast and made Sailboat cinnamon buns! Delivered some to the Crazy Horse in anticipation of our pending departure. In the evening had our final dinner with Bev and Handre, joined by their neighbor Joaquin from Germany. Much wine and good times were had... Then Marc returned from the city... without Captain Richard or his lady friend Crystal. Richard and Crystal had decided to take advantage of Panama and head off surfing for a few days. With them not in a rush to set sail, neither was Marc. His new plan was to fly down to Colombia to sort out details with his prospective client. Captain Marc said he may still sail down, but now not until at least the 3rd of September. And if this job falls through likely not even then. Ugh.
    This boat ride was almost too good to be true: a symbiotic ride with someone who had to go anyways, who had space, for a great price.Too good to be true indeed. And now we have just lost our boat.
    <dl id="attachment_5308" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Lost our boat... Were the cinnamon buns too dry?</dd></dl>
    August 28, 2013: Bit of a bummer waking up today with no plan. We'd also been extending our stay on the Ingwe Spirit daily as plans pushed back bit by bit. Now with no impending departure, and workers doing repairs all over the place on Ingwe Spirit, it was time to give them back their space and find a new home. And a new boat ride.
    <dl id="attachment_5319" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">New home for a night aboard Kiki, after a night of boozing with Gaston and Nano.</dd></dl>

    Back in Nicaragua we had met Max. A seasoned captain in the Panama-Cartagena route, Max had given us tons of great advice. One nugget went a little like this:
    "...I'm sure you've had many folks tell you about this country and that city and how dangerous they are and that you should never go there. I'm sure you've found them to be wrong. Well if you listen to any of this advice ever, listen to this: Unless you ABSOLUTELY have to: Do not go to Colon. Gangs will rob you in broad daylight and not get half a block away before someone robs THEM. They fight over who gets to rob you. It is that bad."


    Well... now we needed a new boat ride. And boats that go to Colombia leave from Colon. So to Colon we went. And Colon IS that bad. At least very close. The buildings are all falling apart, yet appear fully occupied. Poverty is very visible everywhere. Constantly have the feeling that my bright yellow jacket is not attracting the kind of attention I want.
    We heard "Molle (mo-yey) 3 or Molle 5" were the place to check. Asked for directions a couple times that day, and while the people were friendly, their directions always ended with "be very careful".
    <dl id="attachment_5311" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Molle 3, where the captains hang out. or don't.</dd></dl>
    <dl id="attachment_5310" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Jugs and Cricket waiting their turns to be stolen or otherwise pilfered.</dd></dl>
    At Molle 3 we were given little assistance, and told to go check "Colon 2000": the cruise terminal. At "Colon 2000", we were escorted right back to Molle 3 by a travel agent employee named 'Raul'. He found us a couple captains, but only one who was willing to help... and that captain apologized that his boat was full. He'd be back in a week if we were still around. Maybe then. We left Colon with no options, but another friendly warning to "be careful" in the city.
    That evening Captain Marc from Crazy Horse offered to take us to Portobelo to meet his friend Fritz of Fritz the Cat infamy. Perhaps he would be able to help us out. Fritz has a sailboat that ran backpackers, and also was rumored to now have a ferry! Upon meeting, Fritz shared a couple tales, including the story of acquiring and sailing his new ferry from Canada down to Panama, where it currently resides! Sadly, it's not running yet and won't be for six weeks or more with many details to sort out. He did still have his other catamaran "Jacqueline" running, leaving Thursday, that would be an option should we not find anything else in time. In time for what? Yes, unlike our normal unplanned itinerary, I have to be in Cartagena when real-sized Kelly arrives on September 8th.
    <dl id="attachment_5320" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Captain Marc and his daughter-in-Law, awaiting Fritz at Captain Jack's in Portobelo.</dd></dl>

    August 30, 2013: Still holding out hope that the Crazy Horse would potentially set sail on or around September 3rd when Marc returned from Colombia, but trying to keep our options open, Jayne and I returned for a second attempt in Colon. The guard at the dock gate wouldn't let Jayne in: no women allowed. Apparently sailors aren't to be trusted. Me touting my succulent beard, the guard let me in, though he doubted my luck. The problem isn't that the captains don't want to take us (though some don't) it's that they aren't allowed to take us, and face problems with the coast guard if they get caught with passengers aboard their cargo ships. My offer to work as ship nurse got a laugh, but not a ride. The one captain I had met the day before was still in port loading up, and assured me he'd be in touch when he returned next week if he had space.
    As we dejectedly walked to the bikes to leave, youth at the end of the street caught my eye. They were piling scrap wood and old tires across the road, blockading off the very same road we needed to ride down to escape the city! Quickly on the bikes, I saw kids were still throwing more tires over a fence to their waiting friends, but that we still had a gap. "Lets get the hell out of here, NOW!". We zipped through the gap in the tires and scraps, and escaped Colon unscathed to ride on another day. (Pulling out my camera seemed a foolish idea at the time, though I of course now have my regrets)


    September 1, 2013: Still residing in Shelter Bay Marina, though now have moved house to "5th Child" where we will help line handle across to Panama Canal in a few days. Marc got in touch yesterday from Colombia to let us know that the job had fallen through and "Crazy Horse" would not be sailing to Colombia after all. Our last hope for that ride now officially squashed. We are going to stay aboard and travel with "5th Child" to cross the canal anyways, because that's awesome, then work on our plan "B" on our return.
    September 4th, 2013: We've sailed the canal, returned to shelter bay and slept on yet another boat. This time the "Sabatayn" that was in fact not even in the water. "On the hard" as they call it. It would be our last "boat-surf" here, as we were leaving Shelter Bay for good in search of our passage to Colombia.
    <dl id="attachment_5315" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Tough sailing for the trouble riddled Sabatayn, also unable to cut the cord of Shelter Bay. Beautiful boat though!</dd></dl>

    Goodbyes said to all of our new friends here, we rode into Colon again for one last ditch effort. We were met with police checks and yet again tires and scrap wood piled across the road, except this time they were on fire!
    <dl id="attachment_5316" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Colon is a very sad place, complete with tire-fire road blockades in the distance.</dd></dl>

    Again no luck finding any boats going our way at Molle 3, the guard assuring me he would call if any came in. He told us to go to Molle 16, where all the BIG cargo ships come in and try there. That was a quick failure, as security wouldn't even let us down the road towards the port.
    Then we tried again at the travel agent at colon 2000. Maybe there was a cruise ship that we could board? They have tons of room, and a short trip might be cheap? The lady at the desk had zero interest in helping, but Raul was there again. He phoned a friend who worked at Molle 16 who might be able to help us meet some captains there later in the day. "He'll call me". He didn't.
    So Colon is a bust. And an absolute hole. A sketchy, crime laden hole that you should never go to. But if you find yourself in our position, you probably won't take that advice either...
    <dl id="attachment_5317" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Our note on the pin board at Shelter Bay. Eye-catching multicolored ink didn't help.</dd></dl>

    Next plan: off to Portobelo where many backpacker boats leave from. Fritz's boat Jacqueline is leaving tomorrow (Thursday), and at this point, with real-sized Kelly arriving on the 8th, my hands are tied. I have to go. I phone Fritz to see if I can negotiate a discount. He's friendly to the idea, and offers 20% off... but the boat is full soooooo we'll have to wait for the next run: in two weeks. Well shucks. There goes our only backup plan. Ugh.


    We meet another captain in town and a local who gives me the run down of the backpacker boats. Basically, it is (in my words) a cartel. Nobody undercuts each other, and everyone waits for one boat to fill up and set sail before taking their turn, and everybody (of the few who take bikes) charges about 500$ for you and 550$ for the bike. It's understandable, as if they undercut each other no one would make any money, but no competition sucks for the consumer. Then they start speaking of Fritz...
    The large ferry now ominously floating in the harbour, and it's owner, are not popular with the backpacker boats. They feel the ferry threatens their livelihood. From the motorcyclist perspective, it will also likely bring down prices. Sadly it's not running yet. And the backpacker boat leaving in the morning doesn't take bikes. "Too much hassle" she says, "sorry". Options are really running thin. We talk to the port captain, hoping for information on some smaller Colombian cargo boats . After waiting 20 minutes for his friend to arrive who can help us out, we find that it is just another backpacker boat charging 1050$ apiece. Frustration fest, and I'm now notably stressed that there is simply no way to get to Cartagena in time anymore, not even for the full 1000$+. And on top of that we don't have a place lined up to stay the night yet.
    <dl id="attachment_5326" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Cricket, Jugs and the ruins of Portobelo</dd></dl>

    It's amazing, every time we get down, how things just have a way of working themselves out. It has been this way the whole trip, and even in life before that...
    Because then, at that moment, I get a text message from Julia, of Diva fame, checking in to see how we've made out. They are in the harbour in Portobelo! We meet for dinner, then after some rum and backgammon, spend the night once again on Diva. I phoned real-size Kelly to inform her I won't be in Colombia in time. She's not too bothered and decides she'll just change her flight and extend her stopover in New York for an extra week.
    <dl id="attachment_5258" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Great to catch up with Julia and Captain Phil again!</dd></dl>


    <dl id="attachment_5325" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Secure parking comes with an insecure ramp of assorted scraps, but admittedly a lot of fun to ride over!</dd></dl>

    September 5, 2013: We load up and ride to Miramar, a great ride on a sunny day. We've heard other Colombian cargo boats often leave from there. A quite small town, Jayne and I spent solid 4 hours sitting and waiting for a captain to return just to ask if he could take us. But that time was incredibly productive. In that time we met other kind folks and captains from other boats at the dock. A couple gents from Panama City buy us a couple beers and tell us of a boat on the Pacific side they've heard of. We also touch base with myriad of other people and now have the following options:
    -On Monday the 9th there may be a boat that leaves on the Pacific side. quoted price is 250$, but I'm skeptical. (We never heard anything more about this option)
    -On Wednesday the 11th, one cargo boat is heading out from here at Miramar and would take us to Turbo for 300$ each. The trip would take a week or so with multiple stops. Jayne is pretty set against Turbo as the road out from there is reportedly dirt, not her cup of tea.
    -Tomorrow! A man will take us and the bikes for 1500$ direct to Turbo with a stop at Zapzurro for customs. The boat: his lancha (i.e. 15 foot boat). My desperation to get to Colombia has me considering it, but Jayne is quite rightly opposed.
    -Ludwig from the Stahlratte replies to our email (again, we've inquired about several of his sailings). He has no room for US but he could take our bikes leaving Monday the 9th, for 500$ apiece. With this option we figure we could likely hitch a ride on a sailboat for just us. It's only the bikes that complicates things for the Panama-Colombia crossing.
    <dl id="attachment_5322" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">The dock where all the magic happens</dd></dl>

    Then, standing on the dock looking again at the little lancha devising how it might even be possible to fit both bikes and gear, Jayne gets a text message from Marc of the Crazy Horse.
    "How are you? Have you found a boat yet?".
    Marc was back in Panama. If we find a couple extra passengers to help with fuel costs, he would be willing to make the trip, to help me get down in time to meet real-sized Kelly.
    Meanwhile our friend Greg, who we stayed with in San Antonio, has caught up to us here in Panama and been messaging us back and forth all day that he is also on the hunt for a ride. Extra passenger number one found!
    So in one day, from nothing to a solid plan A, with a plan B, C and D in the wings! We head back to stay on Diva for another night, a party night with joined by Tony and Ann we had met in San Blas.
    <dl id="attachment_5327" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Need your sailing weather report or a drink poured? None more accurate or enthusiastic than from Tony!</dd></dl>

    September 6, 2013: Like everyone else with boat problems, we find ourselves back in Shelter Bay again. Have dinner with some friends from round one on the "Arctic Front". I would spend the night sleeping here (my 5th boat-surf), but not before Miguel goes diving for the 4 bottles of wine that had fallen overboard! It was only right that we reward his efforts by drinking them.
    <dl id="attachment_5329" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Miguel suits up to retrieve the 4 bottles of escapee wine!</dd></dl>

    The "Arctic Front" and it's sister boat "Kiki" have also been unable to break the Shelter Bay bungee cord, with a myriad of delayed parts and compounding problems. Also joining us for dinner was our friend Nike, of White Spot Pirates. She was having bungee cord problems of her own as well. So many times we have told each other " we're leaving in two days, FOR SURE". We all lied to each other a lot I guess.
    Greg arrived into Shelter Bay, ready to join us on the Crazy Horse, and joined us for dinner too. A great night, with my mood much improved now that things seem to have fallen into place.
    <dl id="attachment_5260" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Welcome back! Not having cut the bungee led to great times with great people! Plus welcome Greg! (in yellow)</dd></dl>

    Sadly our friends Nano and Gaston, who had also been looking for a ride south, had just left once and for all the day before. Unfortunate since we could now offer them a ride, and they could have helped fill the extra spaces we had. So close.


    September 7, 2013: Rode into Panama city as a favour to pick up Marc's bag he had forgotten at his hotel. Least I could do now that he was actually taking us! Also stopped in at a hostel to advertise the extra spaces on board. In the end this was futile. Riding with all my gear off the bike was fantastic. Jugs has some good power when naked. Fun reminder of what she can do.


    September 8, 2013: Moved myself and my gear onto the Crazy Horse and helped with some minor tweaks and fixes to take some slack out of the steering and run some wiring. I've learned that boats, like bikes, always have something that could use your attention. It's been good times hanging out with Marc on board. He noted that he now has an appointment in Cartagena on Sunday the 15th, the day real-sized Kelly arrives. So he too needs to hit the seas and get there, leaving me with the confidence that we really might go this time. That said...


    September 9, 2013: Leaving day... or so it was to be. Marc found out that it's actually cheaper to stay docked in the Marina until Wednesday since the price drops the longer you stay. Given that it's nearly 100$ a day(!) dockage, it was understandable to go for the discount. While that also gave us more time to scout for more passengers, it did nix my backup plan of the Stahlratte.
    I pulled Marc aside: "If we don't leave today, you have to guarantee me we are actually leaving, or I lose my backup plan. All my eggs are in your basket". Marc assured me we would leave Wednesday. Phew. Though had we known that we were leaving on Wednesday a touch earlier, we could have informed a couple other bikers to have them join us. Opportunity lost. We wouldn't find anyone else, and all paid 50$ more (400$) to help cover Diesel. More than fair, everyone wins.
    Health note: Some bites I got on my right arm during the canal crossing seem to have become infected, along with some athletes foot, so trying to put some nursing skills to work.
    <dl id="attachment_5328" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 810px" data-mce-style="width: 810px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Everything rots in Panama. Not pictured: how obscenely itchy this is.</dd></dl>

    September 11, 2013: This date will be one I remember forever. The day we finally set sail from Shelter Bay! I'll miss the 5pm happy hour though. I think I might have been on the verge of alcoholism. With NOTHING to do but socialize over the few weeks we ended up staying here, I would notice that it was after 5pm and find myself jogging to the bar. Every day. I'll also miss all the people who made happy hour, and every hour, so amazing during our stay.
    Jayne and Diane went to Colon to provision the boat and give all the paperwork to the agent. Meanwhile Greg, Marc and I loaded the bikes onto Crazy Horse. Riding down the dock to the boat, I couldn't shake the image of one unfortunate video I had seen awhile back. All bikes made it without incident however, with much space given to the paniers.
    About 10-15 minutes to load each bike, all quite smooth using the boom as a hoist. Bikes aboard, the ladies returned with the provisions. I ran around to say goodbye to all our friends. All Aboard! The agent returned right on cue with our paperwork and passports.
    "You can't leave today. Your zarpe (boating paperwork) is expired. We can get you a new one for first thing tomorrow."
    Are you kidding me!!??
    You really just can't ever leave this place!!!
    <dl id="attachment_5330" class="wp-caption alignnone" style="width: 610px" data-mce-style="width: 610px;"><dt class="wp-caption-dt">[​IMG]
    </dt><dd class="wp-caption-dd">Bike condoms on and ready for the high seas.</dd></dl>
    We used our now spare time to wrap our bikes in plastic sheeting, then play some cards to kill the hours.
    Then the agent was back. "I was able to get the zarpe renewed today with a little tip to the officer" he claimed.
    I flipped through the paperwork. Our temporary bike import documents had no stamps, no signatures, nothing indicating they had been canceled. The agent told me that they didn't need to do anything with the permits. Ugh. WRONG! Forget it. At this point we we had clearance to go, and the only problem will be if we ever want to bring the bikes (or possibly ourselves) back into Panama.
    It was late afternoon, and now there was debate at weather we should just wait anyways. I was in "go-go gadget go-mode!", so I pushed to leave. Marc agreed, so once again got everyone aboard, untied the lines... and away we sailed. A post all about the voyage coming soon!


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    Motorcycle Minute: I've noticed my fuel mileage has sharply decreased in the past few weeks. Jugs always takes a little more than Cricket, but recently it's to the tune of 3-4 litres more over 350kms. I had hoped to have a week in Cartagena to do a solid maintenance overhaul before Kelly arrived, but we'll just have to do it on the fly as per usual.
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