My Woman Rides - and she’s taking me to Ushuaia

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by hochaz, Oct 1, 2018.

  1. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    Hello all,

    In the week since last posting we left Honduras for Nicaragua and have entered Costa Rica. Our last full day in Honduras we left the town of Comayagua and headed for Choluteca, our launching point for the following day when we would be crossing into Nicaragua. Over a year ago, when we laid out our route, we were quite anxious about this particular day of riding as it took us uncomfortably close to Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras - crazy traffic, pollution, crime, scams - so when I got on my iPad the night before the ride I was very surprised to see a route which was shorter, seemingly more direct and did not require a dance with Tegucigalpa. How did I miss this a year ago???

    When we finally rode out of the snarl of lawless drivers that defines every village, town and city in Central America and found ourselves on a freshly paved 4 lane ‘highway’ with virtually no traffic, we were elated.

    That joy turned at first to curiosity and then, slowly, to a sense of foreboding. We spoke to each other over our intercoms. Eva began with something like, “I don’t really like the lack of traffic on this major highway.” I answered with something like, “What’s not to like? We can actually look at the lush mountains and valleys of rural Honduras without worrying about a chicken bus or tuk tuk cutting us off.” But what I was really thinking was, “Fuck me, there hasn’t been a single car out here in either direction in like 15 minutes. If we were going to get ‘bandito’d’ it would be out here in the middle of rural Honduras.” The perfectly cambered asphalt just kept rolling away under our tires. Then the road began showing signs of imperfection. Weeds began to encroach onto the road, occasional potholes emerged out of nowhere, cowboys were riding their horses right down the middle of the road and occasionally a car would come over the horizon heading toward us, ON OUR SIDE OF THE DIVIDED HIGHWAY. What in the hell....??? Then the other side of the divided highway just deteriorated into heaps of rocks, dirt and weeds. Then our side slowly narrowed from two lanes to one then to shitty potholed asphalt and then rough and rocky dirt. And THAT was the way this beautiful day of riding turned into 40 km of road construction with mind numbing vibrating and jarring of our bikes, whiteout dust and giant ‘highway building’ trucks and tractors barreling toward us out of the blinding conditions. Eva didn’t say a word but I could feel her seething over the intercom. Some two hours later we emerged onto more of the same fresh, perfectly cambered asphalt we had been riding on earlier. How did we NOT get the memo? The road crews had beautified the highway at both ends - it looked sooo inviting - but had only just graded the middle third. AND this was the second time google maps “lied” to us. When we hopped off the bikes for gas we both looked like we had just gotten off the set of THE ROAD WARRIOR. Later that evening, over drinks, we laughed about all the thoughts that had been running through our heads while we road on that post apocalyptic, abandoned, perfect highway.

    The following day we hit the border with Nicaragua at Guasaule. Much like the other borders we’d crossed, we passed by a few kilometers of trucks and knew we were in the right place as dozens of young men quickly walked toward us, indicating where to park the motos. As we pulled up the clouds opened and it dumped sheets of rain on us. We had been riding in the rain most of the morning but it had stopped a few kms prior to the border. As at all the other borders we politely though unequivocally let everyone know we 1.did not need money, 2.did not need our bikes watched and 3.did not need help with the border crossing process. In truth, we wanted/needed all three. Getting documents and valuables off the bikes in the pouring rain is everyone’s nightmare - shit just gets wet. We are riding with soft luggage with no locks which makes it all a bit worse. We hadn’t enlisted any assistance at any border crossings thus far, owing to our pleasant persistence and Eva’s, more than my, Spanish. After a few minutes of being pointed in many different directions, a confident and all business middle aged man who moved like greased lightning told us to follow him...without getting into the details he grabbed us the forms we needed, found us a dry surface on which to fill them out, got us a pen, made copies of all documents needed on both sides of the border, found the police officer who needed to stamp our documents who was off socializing or whatever, and on and on. This is a confusing crossing and none of the officials make any extra effort to direct you through the process. So in the final analysis, we fell into Charlie’s arms and let him Sherpa us through. The tip I gave him was more than worth it. We smiled and laughed the whole time and got spit out the other side in about an hour. He easily saved us a couple of hours of time and endless hassle. I’ve read many ride reports of riders who battle through this and save a few bucks and I salute them. As for us, a few bucks bought us a relaxed process with two extra hours at our destination. My advice is follow your instincts and don’t be penny wise, pound foolish. That said, we will hope to fall back into crossing without ‘helpers’ entering Panama

    Gotta start our ride to Manuel Antonio Park. Will post up tonight with photos.

    Thanks for riding along.....
    #61
  2. Kyron

    Kyron Oncler Inds

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    Great ride report!!
    #62
  3. bogriffinrides

    bogriffinrides Adventurer

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    Thank you for sharing the info on the Border crossing. I plan on crossing that same border at the end of December. It's good to have info and experience from others.
    I might see you in the Ushuaia area.




    #63
  4. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    Hola from beautiful Boquete Panama. Costa Rica was wonderful - 3 days in Arenal Volcano area and 2 days in Manuel Antonio. Yes, it’s expensive and yes it’s touristy but there is no denying Costa Rica’s beauty, excellent wildlife encounter opportunities and access to various and good restaurants. We chose to stay in “resort” style hotels in both places-Arenal Volcano Inn and Shana by the Beach- because, well, we are a romantic couple still - six weeks in. Yes, it’s true!!! The obvious downside to this is, most importantly, that unless you want to jump right back on the bike and ride into town, you are more or less stuck poolside and in the same restaurant. For us, the pros outweighed the cons. My advice is stay in La Fortuna at Arenal and either in Quepos or Manuel Antonio town where you can get around on foot.

    Seeing wildlife was our priority so while in Arenal we toured the Hanging Bridges and Caño Negro and we toured Manuel Antonio park while there. Though I’m a DIY guy (read cheapskate) we used guides on the wildlife tours. Guides see shit you would otherwise walk right by. The following photos were mostly only possible because the guide saw the animal-we didn’t-and he photographed them using our iPhones through the spotter scope. We hope you enjoy them.

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    More photos in next posting
    #64
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  5. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    More Costa Rican photos...
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    We rode from Arenal to Manuel Antonio. We were told by one of our guides to make sure ‘you stop at Tarcoles bridge to see the crocodiles’. He said they are up to 15 feet long. This is a photo from the bridge.
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    #65
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  6. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    When we first arrived in Costa Rica we took photos of every monkey we saw. By the time we left Costa Rica I bet we felt like Costa Ricans feel about monkeys. They can be a nuisance. Capuchin monkeys are called the Costa Rican mafia because they steal everything.
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    On to Panama. Thanks for riding along.
    #66
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  7. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Steve, Eva - We don't have monkeys but all your friends here at the meet-up send you greetings and best wishes.
    #67
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  8. RunePub

    RunePub n00b

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    Great to meet you both along the road!
    #68
  9. Adrian45

    Adrian45 n00b

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    Nice adventure and beautiful pictures .
    #69
  10. Mexicano

    Mexicano Adventurer

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    Hi.. I am in Europe right now . south part of Spain . Yesteday i got so much rain from Barcelona to Valencia that I maid me think about riding to Ushuaia. I am only out here in Europer because I shipped a bike and leave it out here .. but I tought I can ride south of Spain , get a cross to south of Italy and then Greece .. but I think I may want to go to continue my ride that I left out a couple of years ago from Califronia to Santiago Chile .
    I think I may purchase a bike there and continue my journey . .what do you think . any one wants to come along
    #70
  11. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    DO IT! People are so warm and welcoming. In general, the roads have been very good. Plenty of fellow ADVers at the narrow points of the trip and especially on the Stahlratte.
    #71
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  12. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    Wow!!! It’s been a great 12 days since last writing. We are currently in Medellin, Colombia. We’ve been here for 4 days and have absolutely enjoyed it.

    At last writing we were in Panama City. We visited the Panama Canal at Miraflores Locks as well as the museum. The history surrounding the canal is amazing and, of course, very political. Also historically interesting was the battle against Yellow Fever instigated by the building of the canal. Watching the huge cargo ships pass through the canal with only inches of clearance on each side was awesome. We stayed in downtown Panama and we got a lot done that needed doing. I would stay in Casco Viejo (the old Panama City) if we did it again. Though touristy it is charming with many good bars and restaurants as well as amazing views of the Panama City skyline.
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    OH, I FORGOT TO MENTION SOMETHING MUI IMPORTANTE. RADAR POLICE THROUGHOUT PANAMA WORK ON COMMISION AND WILL NAIL YOU FOR 5MPH OVER SPEED LIMIT. So if trucks are slowing down on the Pan American, follow their lead. Fortunately, I’d heard about this from other bikers before getting caught myself.

    Eva and I had always thought that one of the milestones of our trip south would be to sail on the Stahlratte to Colombia. The day was finally here and the road to Carti, the port town at which Stahlratte awaits southbounders, was potholed but otherwise a wonderful ride through mountainous rainforest.
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    What followed after loading the bikes was 3 days of friendship and camaraderie with fellow intrepid travelers aboard the Stahlratte. Excellent food, somewhat boysterous seas, and all around good times. I would definitely choose this route to bypass the Darien Gap again!!!

    We cleared Colombian customs in the gritty port city of Turbo and in two days of beautiful and mountainous riding we entered Medellin. Colombia is heavily motorcycle oriented and that is not necessarily a good thing for two riders from Tucson. At every traffic stop all of the motos split between cars to the front of the traffic lines. As soon as the light turns green there are 20 motos trying to get into the two lanes of road. I called this the intersection “hole shot”. The hole shot, for those of you not familiar with motocross terminology, happens at the beginning of the race, when all 20 racers, revving their engines at the starting line, attempt to be the first rider into the first turn when the starting gait drops. All 20 of them race at top speed down an ever narrowing straight section of course to the first tight turn through which they can all only go one at a time. The first one through the turn is said to have gotten the hole shot. Needless to say Eva and I never “got the hole shot”. The riding here is incredibly aggressive and the riders are amazingly skilled and have a sixth sense on the road. We look forward to our day of rural riding tomorrow.

    Medellin is congested and chaotic but extremely beautiful, set in a valley with steep mountains rising all around. The recent turbulent history, most starkly manifested in the 80s and 90s with Pablo Escobar and the vicious cartel violence, and more recently due to the FARC guerillas, has calmed significantly over the last few years. Medellin has a thriving nightlife with many clubs, cafes and restaurants busy until the early morning. Walking through the city at night feels very safe in the ‘go’ zones.
    #72
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  13. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    While in Medellin, I felt it was the perfect opportunity for servicing the bikes and getting some fresh tires. I strongly recommend Africa Motos. They have an amazing team of mechanics and an uncanny ability to get anything you need for your bike within hours if they don’t already have it. Bikes ride like new!!!
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    When in Medellin or on your way there be sure to check out the neat little town of Guatapé and climb El Peñol. I would also recommend Realcity Tours in Medellin for an information packed 3 hour walking tour of Medellin.
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    #73
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  14. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Happy Thanksgiving guys. Great photos. (I like that sticker on the front fender of Eva's bike)
    #74
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  15. SoggyDonkey

    SoggyDonkey Been here awhile

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    Loving your RR! The pictures are great, but your attitude and information keep me checking in. Ride safe, you two!
    #75
  16. battdoc

    battdoc Old Enough

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    Hi Steve and Eva, how long will you stay in Colombia? I'm flying in to Cartagena Sunday and hopefully start riding by Wednesday. Hope to see you guys again.

    Cheers!
    #76
  17. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Wonderfully written and photographed report. You are a lucky man, Steve... Eva is gorgeous AND rides a moto! Does she have a single older sister? ;) Hope to meet you, fine folks, when you return to Tucson.
    #77
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  18. hochaz

    hochaz Arizona to Argentina with Eva - October 2018

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    Heyyyyyy. Good to hear from you man. Unfortunately, we will not be in Colombia long enough. We enter Ecuador in 2 days. We liked Medellin a lot but it is congested. We just rode from Salento today and that little town and, more importantly, the Cocora Valley are stunning. Ride safely. Maybe we will see each other in Peru as we are flying home for 10 days to spend Christmas with family.
    #78
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  19. battdoc

    battdoc Old Enough

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    I'm in Cartagena waiting for customs to release my bike, we have an appointment tomorrow to open the container. We'll see how it goes, Colombia has its own pace.

    Cheers!
    #79
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  20. 95Monster

    95Monster Been here awhile

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    Great RR! I've been thinking about flying out of Lima to spend Christmas in the States. But I'm worried about the TIP. Have you arranged storage and is it okay to leave the country without the bikes?

    George
    The Gap Year- Colombia
    #80
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