Virginia to Ushuaia on Dirt Bikes

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by chip8150, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    :clap
    Good to see you're enjoying yourselves.

    You make it sound like you'll be pushing through Colombia, unfortunate if so because many riders have reported lots of beauty and joy there. Hopefully you'll have time to visit Al @theturtleshead . I'd like to visit there myself someday, although it appears to be much like Ecuador, which you'll be exploring (on bikes, with your wife, what a blessing! That's been my dream for years)

    Good deal. I imagine by now you've gone through his bike pretty thoroughly!

    Que Dios los acompañe.
    #61
  2. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Pura Vida

    Pura Vida is Costa Rica's infamous mantra and pretty much sums up the culture and attitudes of the people making up this country. There is undoubtably a very different vibe here than the previous CA countries we have passed through. Don't misinterpret this as the previous countries being inferior in any way - they just have a very attitude towards living life here in Costa Rica. For instance, CR is the #1 country in the world for setting aside parques, refugios, reserves, etc. - in terms of total percentage of land - for the benefit of their people, visitors and future generations. I personally have a ton of respect for this general attitude and policy the people and government have agreed to. Our country, its politics and certain percentage of the people seem to be taking us in in an opposite direction here. Don't want to inject any politics here but hey, I'm a Coloradan...Pura Vida!

    I got up early this morning and took a walk through La Fortuna to hopefully get a glimpse of the top of Arenal - but unfortunately, as was the case yesterday, the top was again engulfed in clouds. It really is a breathtaking area - everything is as green as green gets. It rains on and off all day and all night, which explains the lush landscapes. I walked around the corner from our small hotel and was first in line as the barista was just finishing setting up for her 7am opening time. I must say the coffee has been pretty amazing the entire journey, but I have especially been enjoying the local Costa Rica beans - delicious! I've even been grabbing an afternoon in addition to my normal AM fixes! I wandered around experiencing the town getting fired up for the day and taking in the beauty around me.

    A short time later we were picked up for the quick ride up the mountain to our zip line/canopy tour we had arranged the day before. It was a great tour through the lush rainforest with the finale a 130ft rappel down to the river - good times with some good people we met on the tour!

    We arrived back to the hotel in time to check out by 11 and get on the road just past the town Siquirres where we have an overnight trip booked on the Rio Pacuare - two days of class III-IV whitewater rafting fun! Also two days where we don't have to plan anything on the fly - lodging, meals, etc. all included! We found a hotel just up the street from the river center where the logistics for our trip will start in the morning. We can keep the bikes in their gated compound and boathouse while on the river - super convenient!

    I do have to mention the wonderful surprise for dinner tonight at the hotel as it was unexpected. We picked this place for the close proximity to the river center and it turns out their chef is brilliant. The meals she put out (we were the only patrons) were scratch made perfection. The preparation, care and fresh ingredients put into Ken's seafood medley and my pasta dish resulted in an over the top delicious taste bud explosion. A wonderful surprise I'd put up against any top rated restaurant I have experienced in my lifetime - at a fraction of the price! And Costa Rica is not at all cheap by CA standards.

    No pics yet as internet speeds will not allow out here in the sticks - but check back as I hope to get some pics up on Monday or Tuesday after returning from rafting.
    #62
  3. KShow

    KShow Been here awhile

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    From the river, to the sea


    Tonight, We're somewhere in Panama, having rolled into the only hotel we could find as the rain was starting to fall, and the daylight was quickly fading. Backing up the story more days than usual, and not just because I like to put off writing the blog when its my turn. In the town on Squirres was the base of the rafting company we had booked a 2 day trip with on the Pacuare River. As we rode to the base in the morning, we stopped by a local market for last minute items for the trip. Sitting on the bikes getting ready to leave, I got to witness a footrace, between the store owner, and a customer. They were both wearing flip flops, and still reached amazing speeds, one was fueled by fear, and the other by anger was my guess. The customer won, and continued down the street as we rode off in the other direction.
    After all the typical rafting paperwork we were loaded up and headed to the river. Theres just something really cool about rafting through the jungle, especially when you're so used to desert environments for rafting. After a couple side hikes to waterfalls and some more rapids, we ended up at a remote riverside jungle lodge in the afternoon. Our guides cooked us a great lunch, followed by another waterfall hike, and then an even greater dinner that evening. I forgot to mention that Chip and I were the only two customers on this trip. After one of the most peaceful nights sleep of the trip, with the sound of the river and various jungle critters being the only sounds, we were fed another huge meal for breakfast and then it was time to hit the river again. The first day was the easy one,, nothing bigger than class III rapids, but still made for a really fun ride. Today was time for the class IV water, where steep canyon walls pinch down the river into roaring stretches of waves, rocks, and nasty hydraulic obstacles. Mid morning, we teemed up with the day trip rafters for safety in numbers, and all had a successful run through the rapids, except for one raft that was pushed sideways up against a rock wall, dumping out all the passengers, except for the guide. From what we were told later, the guide told everyone to high side left, and they all decided to high side away from the left, and were promptly rewarded with a swim. After collecting all the swimmers, and enjoying a river side lunch, we paddled the last of the river down to the takeout. Our guide told us that he has taken people on duckies, small inflatable canoe like boats, from the takeout to the ocean in 5 hours. We had a faster way.
    We are trying to make it to Panama City a day early, to see if Chip can fix his passport situation at the embassy. We changed back into our riding gear while still dripping a bit and waited out a quick rainstorm before heading towards the coast. Riding through the large banana fields, and past some large buildings for Del Monte, took us to the shore, where we started heading south. The road kept running closer and closer to the beach until we were separated by only 30yards of open trees. Then it happened. My urge to ride on a beach got the best of me. We cut through the trees to the ocean, and I dropped out onto the soft open sand on the beach, twisting hard on the throttle as I did. Sliding around while making sweeping turns, leaving deep tracks in the sand, drifting back and forth across the beach. I was having a blast, not sure what the locals were thinking as they stood there watching, but I was enjoying my new favorite beach activity. After stopping for a couple quick pictures, we decided it best to hit the pavement and leave while we still could. We rolled into the town of Cauhita, a place I had been to about 18 years ago, to find out how things have changed. One thing I noticed most, was the decimal point in all pricing has moved about one slot to the right. We found a fair room for an ok price with all of our necessities, two beds, A/C, and a toilet seat. Sounds simple enough, but you would be amazed how that list can get butchered down this way. A quick walk around town to find the only ATM to be useless, we finished up the night with dinner and drinks and a walk back to our "hotel" . Looking forward to tomorrows ride into Panama, and being one country closer to seeing my wife, that's my way of counting things now.

    And a couple pictures to finish things off.

    [​IMG]
    I have not seen any of these as roadkill yet. Was kinda hoping for a monkey though.

    [​IMG]
    One of the side hike jungle waterfalls along the Pacuare River

    [​IMG]
    Caribbean ocean and motorcycle playground.
    #63
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  4. tatt2mike

    tatt2mike Been here awhile

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    Definitely share your sentiment about the monkey. Great RR!
    #64
    KShow likes this.
  5. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

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    They can do you a Passport in a couple of hours, IF THEY WANT TO. I mentioned in a comment I made earlier about additional pages in a Passport, that I had recently got a new Passport. Here is a longer version of that story I wrote in my Ride Report on October 17, 2017.

    "No riding, but travel related, so I will share it. When we arrived to Tracy's September 8, my Passport was sent for renewal, along with payment for Expediting and a message that I needed my new passport before October 15. Within a few days, the electronic check had got to my bank and within two weeks Tracy had received an envelope with a Passport inside. She knew that from feeling the envelope and did not actually open it. When I opened the envelope this morning, it contained my old Passport and a message saying the new Passport would be in a separate mailing, but there was no separate mailing received. We call the Passport place and was told the Passport had been mailed September 14. We were also told a form we needed to print off the website and after filling it out, I was to take it to the Dallas office, which I did. I walked in their office at 11:20 and by 2:15 they handed me my new Passport. Of course with Dallas traffic, I had left Tracy's at 9:10 and returned at 4:20! A total day wasted, but I got my 52 page Passport and am ready to travel!

    As you can see, they can produce Passports very quickly if they want to!

    Good Luck!
    #65
  6. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    But that was in the US; how about abroad?
    Are US embassies set up to issue passports?

    Guess we'll find out soon!
    #66
  7. dwj - Donnie

    dwj - Donnie Long timer

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    Hi Chip!

    I just finished your European Blog. Very well done!

    Donnie
    #67
  8. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Unfortunately that is not the way it works through the embassy’s when traveling outside the US. Passport paperwork is sent to the US to be processed and the passport is produced in the US and sent back to the embassy. This can take 7 to 15 days depending on the country embassy you use. Also rules for applying are different for each embassy (pre-reserved appointments, etc.) In my case the only quick option is an emergency temporary passport good for up to one year so travelers with urgent itinerary can continue on in their travels. Granting these are a judgement call with the embassy you are applying through. That said I am pursuing this option in Panama and hoping it works out.
    #68
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  9. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Thanks!
    #69
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  10. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Only temporary emergency passports.
    #70
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  11. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    By far the coolest commercial rafting trip I have experienced.
    #71
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  12. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Panama

    We got an early start on Monday which is per usual on border crossing days to hopefully make a few clicks into Panama. We were hoping to get to Panama City on Tuesday to have a bit of a buffer to complete the necessary export paperwork for the Wild Card Sailing on Monday. From what we had researched the Sixaola border is known to be mellow and a relatively easy crossing - not typical of Central America's usually insanity. We hit the border before 9am and started the process. Clearing Costa Rica was relative quick we were over to the Panama entry in under an hour - then it slowed down getting necessary insurance secured and getting our entry permits for the bikes. That took about 2.5 additional hours pretty much matching our average. The interesting part came when we were once again "Gaminized" when the gps's sent us on a dirt road crossing several dilapidated bridges. We were able to ride over the narrow boards for the first several but the last one was so super sketchy we had to walk the bikes across one by one - and even that move was super sketchy as the penalty for a mistake would be a trip ended. We finally made it to the main road and enjoyed an afternoon of riding over lush mountain passes through the dense fog. The mountain road finally emptied us into the Pan/Am highway and we made some good miles before the rain and darkness forced us to settle for an overpriced hotel a few kilometers off the highway. They had the necessities of two beds and a restaurant but nothing more than serving basic needs. The place actually had decent bones but was physically neglected and service was non-exsistant. Oh well, only had to deal with it for a night and we have stayed in worse - but for much less.

    After a quick breakfast (there was only one choice on the menu - how you wanted your eggs) at the hotel Tuesday morning we set out to to blast through the remaining 400k on the Pan/Am highway to Panama City. We have two grueling days of paperwork to complete and I want to get to the embassy to get my passport sorted. The ride was quick and easy only broken up by gas stops and lunch. On a side note I must say the chicken all through Central America is always brilliant. As there are no bad tacos in Mexico, there is no bad roasted chicken in CA - incredibly delicious every time. It has been my go to lunch meal. We got into Panama City just in time for early rush hour but it wasn't horrible yet. We got to the zone were we needed to hit the next day for paperwork and found another pretty bad overpriced hotel. The room was literally a cave in this one. It had a window that went to nowhere so pitch black w/o the lights day and night. We unfortunately also had to book it for two nights. At least it has secured garage parking for the bikes.

    Wednesday we left at 6:45am to get to the DIJ by 7:00am to get the bike inspections done. When we arrived shortly before 7:00am the line was already 25 people deep. After about an hour we got to the office to present our paperwork and were issued a number for the inspection. Ken was 27 and I was 28 and 29 was the last number. The dozen or so people beyond number 29 who as just behind us were all sent home to come back the next day. Wow, slid by on a close one there. While waiting we met Stephan from Switzerland traveling overland by van who we found out is on the Wild Card sailing with us on Monday. He is using a shipper to get his bike to Colombia and told us his agent informed him that Friday was a national holiday and all the government offices were closed. Sure glad we got here a day early as we were planning to do paperwork (as instructed by the Wild Card) on Thursday/Friday. Now we have to be in Colon by 9:00am Thursday to do the second part of the process. Back to the inspection, it took another 3 hours for the inspectors to get to number 27 and 27 so we didn't get done until 11:00am. We then were all told we need to come back to another office of the DIJ down the street at 2:00pm to pick up our paperwork. I had a short window to try to deal with my passport

    I was told over the phone I needed to be at the US embassy between 10-12 to take a number and try to get my passport renewed - the only times this service is performed. Luckily the embassy is only 5k from the DIJ and we arrive about 11:15am - still only 45 minutes for me to get through the muck of government. It took 20 minutes to get past all the security as they all stated I needed an appointment to get in - even though I was told by phone that I could not make an appointment and had to show up between 10-12 and take a number. Several phone calls got me through and to citizen services to get my number (#20 and they were serving #16 at the only open window) at 11:35am. I was pretty much sure I would not get anything done at this point. At 11:55am my number was called and I pled my cast to the agent at the window. I was requesting an emergency temporary passport good for one year that would get me through the trip. He said that it would be up to the counselor general if he would grant it and I filled out the necessary form and narrative pleading my case. I sat down again and a short time later the counselor called me to the window and I pled my case. He actually got intrigued by our journey by motorcycle to Ushuaia and agreed to issued the emergency passport. The only hitch is that I need to pick it up on Thursday morning. We need to be in Colon (1 hour + away) for more paperwork at 9:00am Thursday so this would not be possible. He agreed to let me come back in the afternoon even though they only take cases until noon daily.

    By the time I was finished at the embassy it was 1:00am so we headed back to the DIJ to pick up our paperwork. More forms and waiting and we finally got our one page document to take to Colon at 4:45pm. Pretty much a 9 hour day spent for an officer to verify the vin number on the bikes and issue a one page doc - a process that has taken all of 5-10 minutes at every border we have crossed to clear the bikes out of a county. I just hope Thursday in Colon is quicker so I can get back to the embassy in time to pick up my passport. Since Friday is a national holiday, the embassy is closed as well. Embassy workers get both Panamanian and US holiday off - what a great gig!

    Tomorrow we head to Colon to finish the paperwork, jet back to Panama City to pick up my passport (hopefully) and then have 4 days to burn before the sailboat leaves for Colombia. We plan to find a better hotel, check out old town and the canal museum and hopefully get in a canal tour to see the locks. I did this in 2011 when I was in Panama City for a trade show for work. The museum and tour of the canal was pretty fascinating if you are into that sort of thing.

    No pics as the wifi at our shitty hotel doesn't work. Will try to catch up on some pictures in the next few days with hopefully better wifi and internet.
    #72
  13. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    :clap That's what makes it an adventure!

    :lol3 you're on Latin America time now.

    Enjoy.
    #73
  14. KShow

    KShow Been here awhile

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    Paperwork DONE! And Chip has a new passport! And we found a place with huge beers. Tune in at 11* for the rest of the story.

    *am/pm not specified, or even the day for that matter 1512677055442543842053.jpg
    #74
  15. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Mummmm...beer! Just saying...
    #75
  16. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    :beer
    #76
  17. Britome

    Britome Get Free

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    Lovin this thread. Especially curious how the Darien Gap goes.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #77
  18. lifetravelled

    lifetravelled Adventurer

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    Great report enjoying it a lot thanks for taking the time.

    Safe travels

    Josh and Stef
    #78
  19. ONandOFF

    ONandOFF more off than on

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    Yeah, I've only followed a handful of people crossing the Darien but this is the first time I've heard of wild card sailing. Should be interesting. Apparently around since 2010 and carried 250 motorcycles, looks like they do 2-3 trips per month October - March. The venerable Stahlratte (steel rat) appears to sail the gap May - November. Their alternating coverages leave only the month of April. Stahlratte lists $1150 for bike & rider, Wildcard asks for a request for quote for each individual. Will be interesting to hear the costs along with the overall experience.
    #79
  20. chip8150

    chip8150 Adventurer

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    Wildcard is $1100 for bike and passenger (for bikes under 1000cc - not sure how much more for a big bike).
    #80
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