Latin America!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by bananaman, Jan 15, 2008.

  1. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    On the road from Panama to Yavisa... this was a couple of hours into the trip. My dad had gone ahead of us to see Father Kasubuski, but when he got there, the priest was off building a road or something. I won't go into the rage I feel about the deforestation that roads... like I said, I won't go into it here- it's a discussion for "Jo Mamma" or "Church and State."

    Anyway, my dad was going to try to give me a bottle of water and some cookies. I already had 3 liters of water in my side cases, and plenty of cookies- I mean power bars. Even if you're subsisting on cookies, don't admit it. So we had found my dad somewhere after the Bayano checkpoint. The millitary police at the checkpoint basically waved us through. My dad always stops and hangs out with them for a while, so he'd basically prepped them for us. "Go on, you father is waiting for you with Father Pablo!" they said.

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    You'll be riding along on a decent chunk of road and there'll be this bridge. Kind of a big bridge but there are bridges all the time so you get tired of noticing them. And then you'll be, like, wait a second! I need a picture of this!

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    I know I said that the feeling of arrival in Yavisa was like arriving in Coldfoot, but I didn't mean to imply that the towns are the same. Coldfoot is just a gas station and a camp. Yavisa has been an Indian city for hundreds of years- maybe thousands of years. Africans escaped from the Spanish and settled with the Indians something like 500 years ago. You might do some math and say WAIT? 500 YEARS? Well, yes and no. The Spanish tried to found cities, and then they died, and the Africans they'd forced to come along- they survived fine, and they still live in Yavisa. So it's a small city, an outpost of unique civilisation. Take your malaria pills and don't drink the water.

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    The road to Yavisa- here's a shot of the road out. This "road" has been underconstruction FOREVER. They build it, and it washes away. So they kind-of build it again. I have no idea what they're doing. It's fun though.

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  2. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    So if you ride from Wisconsin to Yavisa, you might get kind of tired. Your old pig-of-a-bike might get tired. Mine kept nodding off, trying to not-fall-asleep. I stopped and tried to slap it awake, but then, leaving- I mean trying to leave again, trying to get back to Panama-

    So we were parked on a concrete pad that used to be the floor of a restaurant that had burned. There was a lip on the edge of the concrete. Cement to some, concrete to me. I go to Barb, I BET YOU CAN'T TAKE IT. So Barb hops on her KLR and rides it and takes off. So I hop on and go too slow or something, and my bike decides that it's done, Done, DONE. Ow. Stand back when you're bike is passing out! (Not only did it fall down, but it kind of zig-zagged or something. I still don't know how it ended up pinned next to this restaurant.)

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    Luckily my bike was getting tired and I wanted to get it back to Panama. Otherwise we would have spent a night in Torti, and the next day, tried to ride to Carti from El Llano. Oh-My-God am I glad we didn't try to ride this road. I handed my dad the keys to the GS (no worries about him trying to ride it!) and comandeered the Landrover. We had a winch, and, in the back, a machete! Adventure!

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    Could you even imaging trying to get a 600 pound motorcycle across this river? After two hours of mountains-and-mud-from-hell?

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    San Blas...

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  3. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Carnival was in it's last agonizing moments. I tried not to look, but I couldn't look away. Somehow we found ourselves in the loudest tent in Panama. This ain't spectacle- this is reality.

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    US$.50 for a can of beer, US$1.00 for a dixie-cup of rum? Every time I paid fifty cents for a beer, I wondered, WHERE ARE THE REST OF THE ADV'ERS? And... (drum roll?) MEAT ON STICKS!!!
  4. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Ok, so Yavisa one day, San Blas the next (for a few days because if you get as far as San Blas by road, then you better stay a while), Carnival the next, what could top that? How about a tug-boat? We spent the next day on the Panama tug "Darien." My cousin Julio is the Captain. We pushed a few ships around, went up from the Pacific through the Mira Flores locks, and then I don't know what else, maybe another set of locks, the Culebra Cut, you know, nothing special. I got to drive in the Culebra Cut.

    It is impossible to capture the perspective- impossible to show the size of the ships and the power of the tug and the achievement of the Canal. It's like a miracle or something.

    I don't think anyone actually gets to drive tugs in the Panama Canal. Don't try this at home. If you ride your motorcycle to Panama, and then ride ATGATT up to the Panama Canal Administration Building, and flip the lid on your helmet and say, "I'm here to drive the tug DARIEN." Sorry I had to end that sentence before it went crazy.

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    Over by Gamboa there was an eagle fishing and looking at us like we were meat.

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  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    This part of my adventure is almost over.
  6. bosco

    bosco Raybanned

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    :ear
  7. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    I'm at Panama Bikers on Via Brasil across from Global Brands a block north of Calle 50 (N8 degrees, 59.265, W79 degrees, 30.892) setting the ''Advrider book'' and two others lunatics have already signed in- american Steven Barnett on a KLR, and brit Les K on another KLR!
  8. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Over in GS-land I explain what was wrong with the bike. Good news is, the brakes are fixed. Bad news is, I've confirmed a need for at least $319 worth of parts plus at least 10 "Bananaman hours" of labor. (One "Bananaman hour" is equal to about 1/2 hour of "Qualified Mechanic" labor. Which means I might be looking at 20 actual hours of labor. Ugh.

    This letting-go-of-the-adventure part of the adventure- this is hard.
  9. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    On the road to Yavisa, I got picked up by a parrot that kept saying, "Arroz! Mas Arroz!" I tried to tell him that I'm on a german bike, and that Barb's is the rice-burner, but he didn't get it. "Arroz! Mas Arroz!"


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  10. thetoecutter

    thetoecutter Cutter of Toes

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  11. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    It's settled. I'm flying home on Saturday. Barb is flying to Colombia (sans bike though). My bike will rest here while I procure replacement parts. Barb's bike will rest here while she climbs mountains in Colombia. I'll return to Panama in about a month, and then I'll ride the big pig home like if I stole it. Barb will continue on, at her own pace, gradually working her way back to the States.

    It's awful late but I feel a profound sense of the-end-of-adventure. To try to take the edge off, tomorow: Diving in Puerto Bello!!! Even though my hall sensors aren't trustworthy, I'm riding! It'll be a bit of a mad-dash, up the Corredor Norte to Chilibre, then the crazy chaos of the Transismica to Sabanitas (just before Colon), then the twisties (Twisties!) to Puerto Bello. We're going light- just a tool kit and swimming suits and towels. I'm about to find out where my scared-line is going to be on those TKC's.

    For back-up my sister and her husband will follow (actually leave a half hour early, and then we'll pass them easily) in a jeep. We shouldn't even have to take towels- we can throw them in the jeep! I like supported rides!

    One thing that'll be funny, I can't get my right-side case off. It kind of got bent-on. My left-side case is kind of wrecked, so it's not on the left-side. It makes me feel fat when I'm lane-splitting. But no lane-splitting on the Transismica. You can pass on the left, but not on the right. I don't care what do Scotsman-in-Ecuador says. Lanesplit all you want in Panama City, but not on the Transismica.
  12. Loud Al

    Loud Al .

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    Sounds like you are having the ride of a lifetime, waiting for more.

    :lurk :lurk
  13. tcpty

    tcpty Black Jack Powered!

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    Hey B-Man!

    Keep us posted on those TKC's! As you now know, I want a set for my GSA. I like the twisties and would like to know how you "feel" them in the turns...

    Have a safe trip back

    TC

    ps: Remember to visit the Cristo Negro church while in PortoBello
  14. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    The diving took longer than we'd expected, and we didn't have time for the church. Darn it all. It's always an awesome experience. So is running around the ruins, touching the canons...

    The ride to Puerto Bello: on the Corredor, all of a sudden, A TOUCAN!!! Big yellow beak, big bird, right on top of us. Amazing. A TOUCAN!!!

    Twisties on TKC's: you feel everything. Maybe they don't grip like a pure road tire, but they make the bike feel like it's eating the road. Like each knob is a tooth digging in. I feel supremely confident.

    On the Transismica- I hate that road but it sure is fun. We passed like mad. Basically we rode the yellow line all the way from Chilibre to Sabanitas. Where there was construction and un-even pavement, we'd just slip back and forth over the lip. Like nothing. Like it wasn't even there. Buses were pissed but to us, the real risk is riding too slow.

    The road to Puerto Bello is partly missing. All of a sudden there are gaps. My advice: don't ride close to the edge. There are gaps more than twenty feet deep, unmarked, sharp, bad. But the twisties are fun.

    Finally, our last ride together, from Puerto Bello back to Panama... IN THE DARK!!! For added excitement, some of the buses and a few of the cars drove with no lights. No lights at all in the black. We passed like mad, always on the left, almost always over the yellow, always with left blinker on, blink, blink, blink, blink. Only about 5 or 10 miles faster than traffic so we could duck in when there was a bus or black semi. Then we'd duck back out and goose the throttle and ride like we stole our bikes and we were getting chased by La Guardia.

    We got to the last toll on the Corredor and Barb goes, "What a fantastic last ride together!" We tapped fists and pealed away. It's hard to get those TKC's to spin and I'm not popping wheelies but you can get the front to jump just fine. I wish I could have seen the look on the cop's face, the one at the last toll.

    "Ride it like you stole it in Panama." I heard from Clay at Panama Divers that you guys at Panama Bikers sell those shirts? I'm going to have to pick up a couple before my plane leaves tomorow.

    My sissy-line... I can't see it in the dark, but I didn't lean enough to scrape my foot-pegs. It's kind of tricky to ride with one side-case, you know? It's got the center-of-gravity all messed up. I try to lean away, I try to counter-stear, I try to lay off the bike, and nothing feels right. I'd have taken the side case off, if I was strong enough, but it's really wedged on. I'll deal with it when I get back.
  15. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Safe at home in Madison. Travelled here via jet airplane from Panama. Ugh. I miss The Ride.

    Between us we took about 2000 photos. At least ten of them are kind of cool. I'll take some time over the next few weeks to do some up-loading, editing, etc. I'm sure Barb will have more- her adventure is still on! Colombia, Baby!!!

    I am so, so jealous- Barb gets to be in Colombia, and I'm in a house with no plumbing, no water at all, on account of everything getting frozened. It's -6 Farenheit right now, wind chill -35. I might end up frost-bitten, which means I'll have frost bite and sun burn at the same time.

    My driveway looks so, so, so empty without my bike in it.

    At this time, two weeks ago, I was wrestling with a bike on a hill of mud, crossing rivers, taking out the plugs and trying to drain the water out of the engine. A week later, Barb and I were in Yavisa.
  16. Charles Seguin

    Charles Seguin Noob4Life

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    Does this mean the ride is over for you?:cry
  17. LaOutbackTrail

    LaOutbackTrail Certified Smartass

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    How long did it take yall to get to Panama? What kind of pace were you going and did yall stick to the PanAm?

    Gracias
  18. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    My bike is in Panama. I'll buy the parts here in the States and take them back with me to Panama in about a month.

    It took me about 3 weeks to get from Madison, WI, to Panama City, Panama, but that was riding pretty easy. We had plenty of 200 mile days. Biggest days were about 500 miles- from Veracruz to San Cristobal de las Casas, and from somewhere in Costa Rica to Panama City. We also took a few days off, and a few days really, really easy.

    Even if you want to go quickly, you've still got to deal with border crossings. They ranged from 2-5 hours each, depending on the moods of the various border officials. You have to check out of each country before you check into the next one. If you don't check out of a country that you've temporarily imported you bike into, then you might not be able to go back to that country without paying hefty fines. All the paperwork takes so much time.
  19. UNDERWNG

    UNDERWNG n00b

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    I am originally from WI and live just south in IL. Enjoying the weather as well. Thanks for taking the time to write and post pix. After long days I am sure it was not always EZ. Much appreciated.

    Love Mad-town by the way, always fun
  20. LaOutbackTrail

    LaOutbackTrail Certified Smartass

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    I am planning 4 weeks down and two weeks back from Louisiana. Definately want to take it easy and chill in a few places... and see some sights. I might need to figure 8 weeks... 6 down 2 back...:deal