Leaving Kansas for Panama, first time south of the border. Advice?

Discussion in 'Latin America' started by paul.miner, Sep 13, 2014.

  1. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    Isn't the purpose of a trip like this to experience new things, see new places, and get a feel for a different culture? None of these things will happen if you are constantly staring at the asphalt for countless hours, feeling tired and taking risks. Enjoy Mexico, you could spend years there and not experience it all. You are young, later when you have more time, consider CA.
    #21
  2. paul.miner

    paul.miner Adventurer

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    So I've been thinking on this for a couple days. I still haven't had time to load up the bike so I don't know whether I'm going to bring an extra tire or not. Camping I'll probably avoid, but I'll bring my gear and take the opportunity should one appear.

    I've been pretty set on going to Panama, and even if I don't make it all the way there, there's no changing my destination. Chiriqui Charlie, riding has usually been more about riding than experiencing local culture for me. It's part of why I've always gone north. It seems I only get a chance to do something like this every couple years, so I'd rather be on the road than taking a class or wandering around a city. To me, that's something I'll do when I'm older and hopefully have more time.

    I have been reading ride reports and other forum posts, and in addition to the butt time thread, here's a few others I liked:

    Traveling in Mexico - Big overview of Mexico/CA traveling.

    Tips on CENTRO AMERICA, Guatemala to Pamama - Good compact list of things to be aware of.

    Mexico and Central America Ride Planning and Road Wisdom - Another good list of tips, with extra focus on the necessary formalities/paperwork.

    No-Moto-Boundaries-Latin America n' back n' da' TAT, un-planned, un-hinged, and solo - Long and inspiring ride report. Great pics!

    Finding PANAMA - Good ride report.
    #22
  3. Catracho

    Catracho Adventurer

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    It doesn't sound like fun, but if you can get to panama and back in that short amount of time, I'd like to hear about it. I just did it (la to panama) took me a little over 7 months, just there not coming back

    I wouldn't worry about Spanish, doesn't sound like you'll have time to talk to anyone jajaja

    I agree with the other guys, don't bother with camping, you won't have time or energy to set up camp at night. Could you imagine trying to put up a tent after 13 hours of Mexico riding? If you're dead set on getting to the end of the road, good luck. If you're looking for fun and seeing cool stuff in a few weeks I'd just do Mexico like the other guy said

    Take an extension cord, too many times hotels have one outlet and that's used for the fan. I don't want to have to choose between precious air movement or charging electronics
    #23
  4. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    You've probably already altered your plans, I don't know, however with the 3 weeks you have you can still make Panama easily with a reasonable pace - if you air freight your bike from Panama City to the U.S. Note, in the "how to" below he shipped to Miami, but you can change to your preferred (if available) alternative.

    HERE is everything you need to know, right down to the contact number in Panama.

    My 2 cents is that if riding to Panama is your dream, then you should do it.

    Don't forget you'll off set a chunk of the freight/air fare costs by saving on return expenses.

    Is this the newly popular "minimalist" approach? Maybe not, but it's one way to get it done.

    Whatever which way you choose, take plenty of photos and consider doing a ride report.

    Suerte
    #24
  5. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Cancel your TVIPs as you leave each country.
    #25
  6. coors

    coors gs 1200

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    Hi Paul,
    I've been living in Guatemala for 3 years and riding around all central america.

    You should listen to the experience people on here , you are trying to do way too much in too little time. Trice pilot idea to do it one way and flying back seem the best option honestly.

    if not I would do a loop in mexico, or mexico , belize, guate.

    Even if you make it, it wont be an enjoyable trip trust me. Borders are a pain in the ass .

    But however if you make it to Antigua, let me know, we might have time to chug a beer down before you need to get back on the road :1drink

    cheers

    David
    #26
  7. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Hey David - I bet you a dime to a dollar (or quetzal) that you've had a beer or three with my man subcomm (Mark) there in Antigua? :freaky
    #27
  8. Tricepilot

    Tricepilot Bailando Con Las Estrellas Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    I'll speak to Mexico and keeping the TVIP when exiting Mexico at a non-US border:

    I wouldn't cancel a Mexico TVIP if I were to be on a 3 week round trip in CA.

    When I exited Mexico and entered Guatemala, I kept the Mexico TVIP but cancelled the Mexico tourist visa. At the Guatemala aduana, they would only stamp me in country when they saw the Mexico exit stamp, which you can only get if you surrender the Mexico tourist visa. They asked to see the Mexico TVIP and just made a copy of it. It was not an issue exiting Mexico nor entering Guatemala. If I were going further south I'd just keep it tucked away. Rode all around Guatemala having a good time, reentered Mexico with the still valid Mexico TVIP and just obtained a new tourist card.

    Perhaps there are other nuances I've not mentioned because I haven't experienced it, but there you have it.
    #28
  9. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Riding south is not like riding north. In the US and Canada I have no trouble with a 65 mph moving average, and I can do 700 mikes per day without feeling like an Iron Zbutt rider. But south?

    South, I'm lucky to average 35 mph. 350 miles per day is hard. Unless I'm taking cuotas.

    I've ridden an R1100RS from Laredo through Monterey and Ciudad Victoria, to Tampico, then back to Matamoros. It's hard on a laden road bike.
    #29
  10. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    I posted a question about a similar situation a while ago, but I didn't get a response. Here is my question:

    I will enter Costa Rica from panama, getting a TVIP in Paso Canoas. After touring in CR for about a week, I will exit to Nicaragua at Penas Blancas, to tour Nica for a week befor returning to CR. Do I need to stop at CR Aduana in PB and turn in my TVIP, or can I just keep it?
    #30
  11. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    The hastle of canceling a TVIP is nothing compared to the hastle of not being able to cancel because, for example, you ride all the way to Panama and then realize that you'd rather ship the bike home.

    If you're just going to Nicaragua, I'd still cancel. Cuz you just never know, you know?
    #31
  12. colomtnbiker

    colomtnbiker wimpy old guy

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    wow, you have a interesting trip planned. What I don't see commented on yet, is your ride, a VFR800. I am not familiar with it and just looked online. Topes on your bike are one thing, they will crush your underside, not maybe but will. Some are marked with paint, some are marked with a roadside sign and quite a few will be in the shade of trees as you go through the little towns. My wife and I rode KLR's twice in Mexico/CA and if we had been on a low rider bike we would have flown off with some of the hits we had of unseen topes.
    And your bike is pretty fancy for a south of the border bike, Do everything you can to make it unappealing to those who may/will want it. A cover at night would be very good for you. If someone puts a gun in face and wants your bike let them have it. Maybe get some washable paint in the US and paint you bike up to look ugly and take the shine off of it. Nobody every wanted our KLR's.
    My wife & I have camped in the US & Canada alot but south of the border is a different story.
    Also, you will be south of the border and you will be in large pothole land. Sometimes there are so many you can not avoid them.
    A phrase book will work okay, learn to say please and thankyou and use these words alot. When you are south, always address someone one the street or in a store as you walk by or into the store with a buenos dias, buenas tardes or buenas noches ( good morning, good afternoon and good evening)
    And if you want to know a word of something you see, ask como se dice in espanol? ( how do you say that in spanish)
    Border crossing may/could be quick but the times already stated are pretty correct. Don't get to crossing late in the day, be at a border crossing as early in the day as possible. Because if there are issues that take longer, finding a room later because you have to ride in the dark is miserable. And always smile at the border crossings no matter how hot and long it takes. We have found using a runner who knows the system can save some time, especially in Guatemala.
    The tvip question is interesting. If you went to panama and flew your bike home, not turning in your tivp's in the previous countries will cause you grief forever in the form of never being able to bring a motor vehicle back into those countries in your name.
    You are planning a very fast trip on south of the border roads. The free roads themselves are a hoot to ride and rarely ever end. At the same time, they are very dangerous. Ride to your outside right when you can not see in front of you because another vehicle very well could be (or will be)coming in your lane. We use the 25% rule, if you can't see ahead you can only use the outside 25% of the road. South of the border road don't have a shoulder to pull your bike off. The side of the road could drop 12" or more and will be very narrow if they exist at all. Photo ops because of this are rare. Your view plane in front of you also is quite interesting, trees, brush and bushes grow right up to the roadways.


    #32
  13. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    Dear Peanut Gallery: Colomtnbkr's real ride is a beautiful Goldwing.

    My R1100RS felt like it was breaking.

    If there weren't topes, the RS was Fun. But... shit, just trying to get off the road for fuel? Fuck me. That sucked. An 8" drop wasn't unusual. Getting back up? Haha. Impossible.
    #33
  14. coors

    coors gs 1200

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    HeY Trice, I definetely know subcom quite well hes a buddy of mine too and of course we had a few :freaky
    We did a pretty cool trip to lagunas de montebello in Mexico with subcomm and a friend of ours , had a great time.
    #34
  15. AndyT

    AndyT Been here awhile

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    In 2003 I rode from Texas to Panama, one way, in five weeks and that didn't leave real much time to sightsee. Maybe one or two days a week off the bike to see some ruins or go to the beach or whatever. I flew my bike back to Miami from Panama City. 3 weeks to Panama and back is madness. After you have been on the road for 10 days, you can decide whether to turn around and come back, or continue and fly home. If you are interested, here is my shipping experience:

    http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/from-panama-city-panama-to-miami-united-states-december-2003

    Keep in mind, prices are from 2003.

    You'll be fine with the VFR IF you take it easy and watch for the speed bumps. Another reason travel is slower down there. I put a few thousand miles on a Kawasaki Concours 1000 in Mexico, and didn't mangle anything.
    #35
  16. Chiriqui Charlie

    Chiriqui Charlie Been here awhile

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    But I live in Panama, I would cancel the TVIP when I ride back south throuth Costa Rica to Panama. I'm just trying to save the hassle of cancelling it leaving CR for Nica and then getting another re-entering CR a week later.
    #36
  17. bananaman

    bananaman transcontimental

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    The TVIP is easy. For you from Panama to Costa Rica isn't a big deal. I can't argue with you. If it was me, in real life, it would depend on my mood.
    #37
  18. paul.miner

    paul.miner Adventurer

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    Packing begins this evening. Leaving tomorrow at 1pm.

    All the posts about night-riding being dangerous made me realize I needed more light (I wrecked my bike a couple years ago so I've got some cheap aftermarket headlights). I bought a pair of Rigid D2 driving lights and fabbed up a mount for them. Still not planning on riding at night, but y'know, just in case. My existing headlights are a joke in comparison, can hardly even tell they're on.

    I don't plan on shipping the bike either way. If I fuck it up, so be it, it's getting abandoned somewhere and I'll ride a 125 home. Colomtnbiker, it's not a particularly fancy looking bike. Front fairings are all gone (radiators are unfortunately quite exposed on the sides), and I just burned off the previous rear tire so the underside of the tail and exhaust are covered in rubber. I also put in a second switch in series with the starter switch, hidden on the bike. But regarding topes, yeah, definitely a concern. I'll do my best to keep an eye out for them.

    Regarding the TVIP, I think I'll decide after I get one (see how much of a hassle it is). 'Course if I do have to abandon the bike, I'll regret not cancelling...

    coors: I'll keep the offer in mind.
    #38
  19. TeeVee

    TeeVee His mudda was a mudda!

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    suerte paul. if you run into to trouble in nicaragua pm me.
    #39
  20. colomtnbiker

    colomtnbiker wimpy old guy

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    If you have any issues in any country, don't be afraid to get ahold of bananaman and his side kick nataharli. Their feet are itching to get south of the border really soon and bman drives a big truck

    Oh, and your bike's conditions and appearance sound perfect for south of the border.
    #40