2 UP FROM 5 TO 9 - from New York to Brazil

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by luciosiq, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Hey Cranbo,

    In my opinion, for this type of trip the Givi Cases are excellent.
    If necessary, we can leave the moto unattended with the luggage on it. No problems. And there's plenty of space for 2 UP.
    Also, we are taking a lot of Photo Equipment with us (Paula is a photographer) so the GIVI Cases are hard and protect the gear.
    The tank bag is touratech and the tank panniers are aerostich - very good for bits and pieces, parts (tools, filters etc.), bottle of water and things that you are going to use while riding.
    We are very happy with the selection of cases and the things we brought with us.
    2 addtional suggestions, which I learned by reading other RR here on ADV Riders :
    1. Don't leave home using 100% of your luggage space. Especially if you are riding in cold temperatures at the beginning. As soon as you get to warmer temps you will need to remove the inside linens of you riding gear and will need extra space to store them.
    2. We decided not to carry camping gear with us (tent, stove etc.). Instead, we brought only 2 sleeping bags. We are staying at small hotels or hostels. If the place is not very clean, we use our sleeping bags at night. Also, in an real emergency or romantic situation, you have the sleeping bags to keep you warm to spend the night watching the stars.
  2. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Hey Marc,
    Thanks for the comments.
    Hope you are able to organize your trip soon.
    If you need any addtional info, let us know.
    Take care
  3. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Hola Amigo,
    Always good to hear from you.
    When we met I told you Paula enjoys this "exclusive photo" business. She takes it as a challenge.
    I should take photos of Paula taking photos. What she does is not really normal.
    But, I guess, as you said, normal life is totally boring.
    We are having a great time.
    Thanks for being with us.
    Saludos siempre.
  4. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Well, you were the one who gave us all the information and tips.
    The only information we didn't pay much attention was that you never heard of 2UP riding El Llano-Carti.:evil
    So, now you will have to adjust your "Panama Real Adventure Guide".:deal

    Anyway, thank you so much for all the information. It really helped us execute this part of the trip.
    We had a great time in Panama and crossing to Cartagena.
    Hope to see you soon.
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,894
    Your photos of the El Llano-Carti road, with the bike resting... I've been on that road so I know how that gravel isn't good. There's good dirt, and there's not-good dirt. That gravel is on not-good dirt, which makes it worse than no gravel at all.

    Every time I've crossed that river, it was 3-4 feet deep. I'm glad you caught it on a low-flow day- otherwise you'd have needed at least two snorkels- one for the bike, and one for you!
  6. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    OK. As promised, here is a description of what we have been doing to cross borders and face any attempt of………let me think the correct word in English………”CORRUPTION”…….sorry my poor English. I cannot think of a better word.

    First, it is important to explain that this is not the “100% Perfect Border Crossing Plan or your money back guaranteed”. It is simply what Paula and I decided to do, after reading so many awfull and terrible border crossing experiences.

    So, we decided that we were journalists working for a newspaper and television network, preparing this documentary on Latin America.
    We are brazilians (we really are) but working for an American newspaper and TV Network (we don’t).
    Since Paula is really a photographer, we decided that our main weapon would be our cameras.
    So, here is what we did in Honduras (but we have been using this “strategy” in several places – not just borders):
    In Honduras, about 5 miles before El Amatillo, a lot of helpers start jumping in front of the motorcycle. We simply did not stop.
    However, about 1 mile before the border, a cop (yes a cop) stops you and forces you to talk to a couple of helpers. They even have a tent and a couple of tables in an attempt to make you believe they are officials. Ohh….of course they have those beautiful offical badges (shit nothing). We had about 6 or 7 of those HELLpers around us.
    At that stage, we notice that things were not correct as this guy was just checking our documents. So we started using our counter-attack strategy. Paula quickly got the camera, came to the “Official Guy” and said:
    “Excuse me. A couple of pictures.”
    The guy asked what was that for. We explained that it was for tomorrow’s column in the newspaper. We were documenting border crossing.
    The guy hesitated a bit to continue “analyzing” our documents.
    I went to him and said :
    “Is this really the place where we are going to process the Temporary Import of the bike ? Because this is going to be published on a newspaper.“
    And Paula kept on “shooting” pictures.
    The people around us tried to avoid the camera. And Paula kept on shooting. It was blood everywhere.
    Only then I realized that I was married to a Serial Killer.

    The Official Guy holding our documents just said:
    “This is not really Customs. But I can help you….blah blah blah”
    We just grabbed the documents from his hand and left the place.

    Next, we were there. One of the worst places I have ever been in my life: “El Amatillo”. The Customs Shit Place in Honduras.
    Of course they have no signs to show you what to do. The idea is to force you to use the HELLpers.
    So, we just stopped the bike and stayed put for a moment, looking around.
    One helper who followed us from the Fake Police Checkpoint to El Amatillo came to me and said:
    “Look. I know you are journalists (periodistas). But, I can really help you to process your paperwork for US$ 5.”
    The only thing is that he asked us not to take any pictures of him.
    So, I told the guy that we were going to document the whole process and we wanted to do it by ourselves. But he could stay around just in case I needed him. And in the end I would give him a few bucks.
    He showed us where we had to go.

    I noticed that as soon as we got to the Customs Window, our “helper” went into the office and talked to a cop.
    From that point on, things were perfect. I was invited into the office, they found a chair for me and another one for Paula, offered water and processed our paperwork in 30 minutes, costing us US$ 33. We didn’t have to move from there. Amazing Perfect Efficient Honduran Public Service.
    We even got Flu Masks for free to protect us against the Swine Flu.
    Ohhh…….and we didn’t have to go to the other building to have our documents typed or keyed into the system, as some reports I’ve read. It was just handwritten by a Clerk.

    Paula kept on taking pictures of the Clerks in the office and asking for their names. More shooting and blood everywhere.
    So we left the place with our permit.

    Next, I gave US$ 3 to our “helper” who didn’t have to help us at all.
    Ohh….I asked him if I could take a picture with him. He didn’t want it. But, in the end, accepted. Have a look below what he did to avoid showing his face.
    After this, we clearly saw the guy going and handing the US$ 3 over to a lady who was talking to other helpers.
    In my opinion (I cannot prove this), Helpers are just poor guys hired by the Officials to force tourists through the whole corrupted process. Depending on your behaviour, they keep on creating additional steps to rip you off.
    We have read terrible stories of people going through “typing” steps, 40 photocopies, charged US$ 150 etc etc.

    Anyway, in half an hour we were on our way.......................on our way to be stopped by the cops on the road………….6 checkpoints in total (150 miles to cross the country).
    At all checkpoints, we performed the same routine :
    We would stop the bike. Paula would quickly jump, grab the camera and start taking pictures.
    The cop would come, say hello and ask what she was doing. As soon as I explain, they would say :
    “Ok. Thank you. You can go.”

    Honestly, I never expected this strategy to work so well. In other words, I never expected these guys to be such cowards. They were F*** scared of two fake journalists.
    You should see these Macho Cops hiding from a camera, even behind cars.

    We didn’t even have to use our additional tools :
    - The camera supposedly had a chip and was transmitting the pictures online to the Newsagency. Just in case they wanted to steal the camera.
    - Our motorcycle was being monitored via satellite and the Newsagency knew exactly how long we were riding or not. That is, if we were being held for too long, they would know something was not right.

    At the last 2 Checkpoints, we were already laughing of the whole stupid situation.

    At around 2pm in the afternoon, we were saying goodbye to Honduras and riding into Nicaragua.
    I must say: a very sad goodbye.
    We are not proud of what we did. We just didn’t want to be ripped by corrupted people without doing anything.
    We were just sad because we missed the opportunity to visit this beautiful country.
    We just didn’t feel safe enough to stay there.

    So, this is what we did in Honduras and what we have been doing anytime we feel people are starting to act in a strange manner towards us.
    This also worked in the Panama Border where the Customs Lady kept on processing several documents from Helpers, jumping the line in front of us. As soon as we grabbed the camera and told them who we were, they processed our Vehicle Temporary Permit in 5 minutes. As Paula kept on taking pictures, this Customs lady looked at her and said :
    “Look. I am processing your permit. What else do you want”.
    Ohh….and this strategy also helped us when we were stopped by a cop in Panama. Apparently I was speeding “somewhere else” and his buddy cop called him and asked him to stop me. Apparently, I did not stop for the other cop….blah blah blah.

    There are also other stories using this “Journalist Strategy” but I will leave it for some other time.

    Anyway, since these events, I have been thinking that maybe we should create an organization to help Riders crossing borders or in any difficult situation in a foreign country. I am not sure if this already exists, but it might make an International Ride safer and simpler.
    We should report these events to Governments and Embassies in those countries. I will for sure, as soon as we finish our trip, send a “nice Ride Report” full of pictures to the Honduras Embassador in the US explaining what his Officials are doing in El Amatillo.
    Maybe, with the use of some technology, this organization could put some pressure on these "Officials" to respect a bit more tourists riding their own vehicle.

    Let me know if you want any additional information.
  7. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    .
  8. flatmo

    flatmo Americano

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    578
    Location:
    Miami/Honduras
    Lucio and Paula,
    Thanks a lot for the inspiring pictures and the excellent story. Enjoy Colombia!
  9. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Anyway, back to the Report.
    Once we had the moto tied to the boat, we went sailing for 3 days around the San Blas Island and after that sailed directly to Cartagena in Colombia (30 hour "Ride").
    We enjoyed the whole time spent on the boat as we were able to relax and visit several Island and Kuna Villages. It was very interesting.
    But in the end, after 5 days on the boat, we were ready to "hit the road" again.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    In Cartagena, we got the moto off the boat and went to DIAN to process our Temporary Permit.
    Attention here : you have to take the moto with you to have it inspected. However, before riding it in Cartagena, go and buy your Riding Vest (several places around town sell it for US$ 5 each).
    In Colombia you simply cannot ride a motorcycle without this vest and your helmet.
    Also, pay attention to the "No Motorcycle Day" in Cartagena. It happens every 15 days.
    Of course, we arrived on this exact day and didn't know about it.
    The cops (on bikes) stopped us on the road and we explained that the DIAN People told us to ride it so that they could inspect it.
    The guys accepted our story.
    But it might be better to avoid this specific day of the month.
    So, the Temporary Permit Process at DIAN in Cartagena was simple and easy to be done.

    We stayed at Villa Colonial Hotel. It was a nice small hotel and they allowed the moto inside for the night, which was great. It costed us US$ 30/night for a double room with private bathroom and a/c.

    So, we spent 3 days relaxing and enjoying this beautiful city.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
  10. mimo523

    mimo523 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    Oddometer:
    143
    Location:
    Bucharest, Romania
    Great report! I am planning my own central/south American adventure and this all is helpful stuff. 2 questions: Great pictures, what camera are you shooting with and how much did the 5 days boat crossing cost?
    thanks, Mike
  11. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Hi Mike,

    Sorry. I forgot to mention the cost of the boat.
    It was US$ 500 for the bike, including the transfer from land to the boat and from the boat to land and also customs in Cartagena.
    It was US$ 375 for each of us, including food and water.

    We are using a Canon 5D Mark II and a Canon Rebel XTi

    Let me know if you need any additional info.
    Cheers
  12. flatmo

    flatmo Americano

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    578
    Location:
    Miami/Honduras
    Hola Lucio,
    Great trip. One question, how much you pay in Colombia for the bike importation and insurance?
    I can't wait to see your photos of Brasil!
    Keep riding safe.
    jesus
  13. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,894
    The way you crossed in Honduras- BRILLIANT!!!

    I'm going to link that page to the sticky Ride Report Link Thread.
  14. Eduardo

    Eduardo Eduardo

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    689
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Hola Lucio and Paula, The Honduras border story tells a really clever method to "point and shoot" the corrupt officials, unlike the point and shoot method I had in mind while they were ripping me off. I had to threaten them with exposure to get across, but by then they tapped me for hundreds of dollars. I wouldn't be at all ashamed at scamming those con artists. It's sad but you pointed out the poor helpers are just trying to make it in this world, but the actual officials have set all this up and get the majority of the cash out of corruption of tourists. I'm not sure I could pull this off the same way, being alone, but you've got my wheels turning on how I could make them squirm. Contacting the embassies is a good idea, but ours is normally worthless and I imagine the corruption goes all the way to the top in Honduras, but maybe if enough riders complain it will get some exposure and correction. I have names from my encounter, but never followed up on it, probably should have, except I planned to somehow skip Honduras forever, which would be a shame too, since it is a really beautiful country, but I too didn't feel safe there, for first time in C.A. in almost ten years.....que lastima.

    Totally enjoying your ride report, you write with a tinge of humor, and I like that. I'm still laughing at your comment of "it was then I realized I was married to a serial killer". Good job Paula! :clap Saludos, Eduardo
  15. crashmaster

    crashmaster ow, my balls!

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2007
    Oddometer:
    5,566
    Location:
    Alaska
    If anyone ever wanted to move to CA they could probably make a great living by running a ferry that bypasses the Pacific coast of Honduras. Something to think about for sure.........
  16. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Jesus,

    No cost for Vehicle Permit in Colombia.
    We didn't buy any insurance. I don't think it is mandatory (not sure).
  17. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Yes my friend.
    I am just sick of this useless way of earning money (corruption).
    That also includes my own native country (Brazil).
    These criminals need to find another way to earn their living.
  18. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Hola Eduardo,
    Thanks for the comments.
    I really think Helpers are just part of the "Business". They are hired by the Officials.
    Also, let's not forget the Photocopying Requests. In my opinion, this is just another business of the whole "Border Crossing Corporation" owned by the Officials.
    We just have to find ways to expose these criminals. The journalist strategy is one way. But, I am sure people can think of other solutions.
    I guess, what we can do for the time being is to help whoever needs to go through borders.
  19. luciosiq

    luciosiq Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2008
    Oddometer:
    378
    Location:
    Santos - Brazil
    Not a bad solution.
    Not sure how the sea conditions are around that golf (Bahia de La Union). But, it seems (on the map) ideal for running ferries across.
    Again, it is very sad that we have to skip Honduras. But, they have to realize that there are proper ways to earn money, other than using this beautiful country as a "Corrupted Tollway" for tourists.
  20. flatmo

    flatmo Americano

    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    578
    Location:
    Miami/Honduras
    OH YEAH!!! Great news for me! Thanks Lucio!
    Keep riding safely!