Riding RTW and back - on as much dirt as possible!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by rtwpaul, Dec 12, 2015.

  1. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    RTW to date (march 1st, 2016)

    our Super Tenere travels have taken us 24,309 miles/ 39,121km/ 1.5 billion inches or the equivalent of a full circumference of the earth and we have only been to two countries!!!

    or this...

    [​IMG]
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  2. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    you beat me to it...my last post was supposed to go up late last night and the internet crashed :cob

    so this morning it came back up and got us back on track
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  3. Taxco Guru

    Taxco Guru Adventurer

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    :rofl
    Hi Paul ! we are o.k nice selfies we hope to see you again and will love your report's is like to be there.
    rtwpaul likes this.
  4. Goldie05

    Goldie05 Fast George

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    Jackson, NJ
    I still can't believe 2 of you eating + hotel + gas for $58 a day

    you almost blew past the average on the "isla mujeres"

    No wonder it was so expensive, how many "mujeres" did you sleep with during your stay here? :lol3




    Sorry Jenn :hide
    rtwpaul likes this.
  5. jnowako

    jnowako jake

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    baltimore middle river,MD
    Hey Paul I gotta ask......did you see any good mullets in Mexico????
  6. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    now you come to mention it i think i saw the district chairman sporting a good one last night in the area we are in...the party in the back was outta control!!!
    jnowako likes this.
  7. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    [​IMG]

    i'll write up Cuba in daily reports, some days will be in 2-3 sections due to volume of photos and info...

    if there's any questions i'll answer them as we go along unless i know there is the answer coming up in specific days write up

    Then i'll tell you its on the way and to sit tight so i can keep the story in a chronological order


    March 3-5 at sea


    We had spent the day riding the whole island, not the extreme ride it sounds like, just about 90 minutes worth including stops for photos and a few drinks to see everything.


    We were stalling for time, as we had to be at the dock at 6.30pm with our bike for loading.


    We were told we would be the first to load then in turn other riders would show up in 15 minute increments. The reason for this is the bikes are not being exported out of Mexico officially so we don’t have to bring customs into the picture, doing it ‘after hours’ everyone turns a blind eye and on the return the bike will be miraculously on land before the office opens in the morning.


    So we showed at the allotted time and we were the last to board, strange, but we just rode down the dock, in the process got shouted at by the waitress in the bar that we rode thru the middle of “you can’t ride you bikes thru here!!!”


    I respond with “ok, I’ll find a different way back.” She just looked at me dumfounded not knowing we weren’t coming back…well not today anyway.


    Pulling up next to the Stahlratte there was one bike in front of me seconds away from being hoisted on board, within minutes my bike was in the air, then on the deck then strapped down and covered like it never happened.

    [​IMG]


    Everyone was staying on board that night except us, an email had gone out to let everyone know but our names were skipped, not a problem we had a place booked from airbnb for two nights so we said our farewells and planned to be there in the morning for breakfast.

    [​IMG]

    The following morning we had our alarm set for 7am, time for a shower and then a 45-minute walk to the ship. We got up and Jenn hit the shower, I looked at her phone and it said 7am but mine said 8am…WTF!!!

    Went online and googled, ‘what time is it in Isla Mujeres right now?’ – 8am

    SHIT, we’ll be late, but why is it 8am she was still showering so I did a quick search and I find…the State of Quintana Roo was granted permission to go to Eastern Time effective Feb 1st 2015.

    It continued…the Mexican government agree, finally, with the state that it would be a good cost effective measure for the state to gain an extra hour giving it chance to allow the tourist and extra hour of sunlight and also save the local businesses one hour of electric in the form of A/C and other electrical usage…

    So we ran out the door, not realizing Jenn had left her phone on the bed, dropped the keys in the drop box and started a fast walk…we had 30 minutes to do a 45 minute walk.

    Lucky for us there are mass amounts of golf carts on the island, most are 4 seater with only one or two people in them early in the morning. We try and hitch a lift and the second one that is passing stops and gives us a ride. A young American girl who has been here on the island for 9 months as a teaching supervisor, who was formally stationed in Japan…travelers are everywhere.

    We make it to the ship on time for breakfast…pissing off a few storks as we run up the dock

    [​IMG]


    It was hurry up and wait situation, not knowing when the immigration would allow clearance was the reason for the precise time. Once we arrived we were told now it was pushed back to around 3pm.

    [​IMG]

    So breakfast was eaten, then we realized Jenn’s phone was missing, as we had plenty of time we decided a cab there and a walk back would kill an hour or two. Phone recovered and we came back, spoke with one of the other riders, Kai, and told him we were headed to the beach for a few hours if he wanted to join us, he did.

    We got back to the ship, and decided to do a last minute beer run, and as we returned they were literally undoing the lines of the ship, the motor was already running…30 seconds later and we would have missed it.

    Over the next day and a half we all got to know each other, all I can say is this is a very eclectic mix, not the normal group of long distance riders that are the staple passengers of the Panama/ Colombia run.

    In no particular order and not mentioning any names…


    · An old (white) retired gentleman, virtually stone deaf, married (wife not present) to a younger (black) Kenyan lady and enjoyed showing photos of his 6 year old son; he claimed he only came to Cuba for sex and this was his 20th time here

    · A mid to late thirties guy, who described himself as a currently registered school bus driver, but formally an investment banker on Wall Street, but now lives in Idaho

    · A young Swiss/ Italian couple who have been on the road for approximately 3 years but during their travels she fell pregnant but they decided to weld a sidecar onto their Africa Twin and keep moving…the baby is 9 months old. For you that have been on the Stahlratte…imagine 3 ½ days down stairs with a baby...here

    [​IMG]

    · A chiropractor, who said “I don’t do it anymore”, now I’m a lifeguard

    · Another investment banker from Wall Street who said he’s not allowed on Wall Street anymore and now is a soccer referee and an amateur documentary movie maker

    · A old German Rabbi who we would find out was a pathological liar he would say anything to be the center of attention; allegedly a dive instructor/ amateur movie maker who now lives in Playa del Carmen and his young Mexican wife

    · A Polish/ American restaurant developer/ movie producer who is going to Cuba but “not coming back” in the significant future as he’s looking to start a new venture

    · A German couple who describe themselves as part of the hippy commune

    · Ludwig and the crew, a German husband and wife

    · And us…

    Not present…

    · My buddy @kevinsinvegas who had had a crash and broke his leg just a few days into Mexico

    · One guy who mentioned “Cuba” in his deposit on PayPal and now is being audited for the next five years and investigated by the Treasury Department and IRS…he declined to come, but did say he might come next year if things open up a little more and the audit threats go away


    You can’t make this shit up!!!


    We are the only riders heading south on the return, the Swiss/ Italian couple are splitting for a while, he wants to go to Alaska and she doesn’t like the cold so she is taking the baby home to meet the family while he gets his Alaska fix.

    The rest are headed home, most have deadlines to meet in one form or another…so more like a long vacation for most of them

    So like I said an eclectic mix, interesting conversations, non interesting converations that needed to be walked away from…not so much about travel and riding, more like small debates, some strong opinions on certain subjects, the state of Cuba, politics and a little soap box action was also in the mix.

    The first 12 hours out we went straight into the wind, a little rough and five people were competing for weakest stomach.

    [​IMG]

    The soccer referee won but came back strongly day 2 and the young Swiss guy and the Rabbis wife continued to suffer and still do…

    [​IMG]

    Late afternoon today the motor stopped, I was down below and when this happened and last time I was on here I was called to help…what they needed me to do was weld a snapped valve back together as we were stranded at sea and drifting. At the time there were 15-20 foot swells and the only welding option was a stick welder, for those welders out there imagine the scene, three guys literally holding you in place with all their might as you try to start an arc and hold a steady hand and run a bead as the ship dips and rises 15 to 20 feet every few seconds.


    …This time it was for swimming, much more enjoyable!!!

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]

    The seas had calmed and everyone including the baby got in the water, a few people used the rope swing, then we continued to Cuba. It was only 20 miles off our port side but we won’t reach land for another 42 hours from now as we sail its southern shore until we get to the center of the island and Cienfuegos.

    [​IMG]

    The following day it rained almost the whole day, multiple water spouts were spotted and eventually the the seas were calmer but it made for a long day and most people just held up in their bunks for most of it. When they did show their faces they were longingly looking for land that was still over the horizon

    [​IMG]
    Halen, Wilkrider, SmilinJoe and 16 others like this.
  8. LKLD

    LKLD Been here awhile

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    Flatistan
    Paul, glad to see you and Jenn made it back. The 360 video was fun to watch, and I couldn't help but think what a trooper Jenn was, following you in circles, smiling the whole time. My wife might have done 2 with smiles, after that she would have lost interest, and the 360's would have come to an end....at least with her in them. :fpalm
    Goldie05 and rtwpaul like this.
  9. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    March 6 Cienfuegos



    We finally arrived in Cienfuegos around 5am March 6

    [​IMG]

    Ludwig was up and around shouting orders out in German and English. Lying in bed it seemed a little strained but once we woke we understood, we had docked against an old wooden ship that looked more like a ship wreck…and with only a few feet to spare between our mast and what was left if its mast.

    [​IMG]

    Not more than an hour later everyone was up and on deck, excited to be in Cuba but still not allowed to leave the ship, as we needed to clear immigration before we had our freedom.

    Soon after the officers arrived Ludwig handed them a bag with all our passports, they left to start the process of clearing all passengers and crew.

    [​IMG]
    After about 90 minutes we were told to go by our bunks as customs is boarding, we all complied and the drug-sniffing dog was walking around being directed by its handler…chased by the 9-month-old baby!!!

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    After around 20 minutes of searching and each of being asked a random question or two we were free to leave the Stahlratte.


    Our bikes were still held captive until the next day, Monday…when their chance at freedom would come.


    So we all disembarked, some simply went to the nearest bar to grab a drink just relishing in their freedom.


    We headed for a walk into the main part of the town. Immediately leaving the docks we saw a mix of very large houses; most turned in to small hotels and normal residential homes. It was strange not knowing what to expect but the first thing that was very obvious was the amazing lack of any of almost all traffic.

    [​IMG]


    Then turning a corner we spot the first old American car, sitting in an open garage aside a house that would not be out of place in South Beach Miami…then another in the street, and all of a sudden they seemed to be everywhere mixed with old Russian Ladas and Moskvichs and the occasional new Kia overtaking them all.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    It was all very surreal but kind of what we had expected to see. A strange sight was a young guy astride a moped in stars and stripes t shirt, this of course goes against what the press what you to believe Cubans hate Americans, probably a third of younger Cubans we saw had some US branded clothing of either sports teams and known brands on.

    [​IMG]

    Walking into town it was the starkness of some of the side streets…looking down them and only seeing one car and it being an old Chevy or Buick, almost like you are looking down that street and seeing in the past.

    [​IMG]
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    The buildings seemed mainly in disrepair but in every doorway or window we looked in there was a face peering outward. It seemed very reminiscent of certain older areas around New Orleans.

    Then of course you would get a reminder that you are not in Louisiana by seeing a sign of the revolution or images of Fidel and Ché either on building or in stores or on tables that street vendors were selling.

    [​IMG]

    We walked for hours just looking at life as we passed it by, looking into a government office seeing a girl sound asleep at her desk…what would Fidel think!!!

    [​IMG]
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    Heading back we walked thru the main square we spotted policeman with a dog, it seemed very subdued but obviously wasn’t with its mouth enclosed in a steel mesh for bite protection.

    [​IMG]
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    In the same square there was just in one section about 50 people all on cell phones, I tried to see if maybe it was an area for free internet, it wasn’t but found out later there was a hotspot right there that we missed so this very small section gave a very good connection.

    [​IMG]
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    Close to the ship we were passed at speed by two Harlistas, sadly not the greatest photos as they sped off into the distance

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    The transit police looked up when they heard the exhaust, but once they had passed they simply resumed their conversation.

    [​IMG]

    In the evening we went to a very small restaurant with just six tables, I ordered pork and Jenn ordered chicken. Included with the meal was first a soup, chicken and potato thick broth that was nothing short of spectacular. Our hopes we instantly raised because all we have heard is how bad the food is, bland tasting and only good for survival and not much more.

    [​IMG]

    Next we were given a salad of thinly diced cabbage, cucumber and tomato, again fresh and good…this is looking promising.

    The main course arrived, Jenn’s chicken was a cut I didn’t recognize, and a finish that was as equally weird. It appeared to be boiled, then very quickly fried but only for 10 seconds or so. My pork was a thin cut that covered half the plate but it looked flat and gray and kind of old!!!

    We tried our own food and each other’s and there simply was no flavor, absolutely nothing. If you were wearing a blindfold it would have been difficult to determine there was a difference, certainly no taste difference only a difference in texture. We ate as Cubans just to fill our bellies and were disappointed.

    The waitress came and cleared the plates, she said in her broken English “now I bring you coconut and cheese, it is very good, you will eat it!” we looked at each other then at her…”together?”

    “Yes together, you will eat it!!!”

    We smiled and nodded, it arrived and as described it was coconut and cheese, and we did eat it and it was a very strange combination, but it was good and surprisingly it worked.

    [​IMG]

    During our dinner service the restaurant lost all power 7 times, the first time the lights went out I looked outside and nothing else had lost power, all other lights we still on. It seemed strange but in minutes the lights came back on, each successive time the waitress came to our table and apologized, then to the next, then the next. No one commented, made a noticeable sound in negativity or got up and walked out. Every diner just carried on, as it was normal and expected

    When we got the bill dinner, all four courses were 12 CUC each or $12; very reasonable for western standards but expensive in relation to Cuban standards when you think a history teacher in Cienfuegos earns 13 CUC a month.

    [​IMG]

    As we walked back we mused what the reaction would be if we had gone in the kitchen and cooked for the chef, using the exact same pork or chicken and spiced it up and cooked it in a different way what his reaction would be?
    Halen, Red_dog, Wilkrider and 16 others like this.
  10. Dracula

    Dracula afficionado Supporter

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    Awesome updates Paul. Well I just couldn't help commenting as they all are, always. And again, this time you observed and shared most essential "colors" hand picked by you, from a slice of life as it happened, so realistic that am sure most of us feel as if being there with you. Thank you!
    Taxco Guru and rtwpaul like this.
  11. J.Luis Vázquez

    J.Luis Vázquez Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2015
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    Jeráhuaro de Juárez/ Los Azufres Michoacán
    Interesting update and pics as always Paul, you have no idea of how they did to keep running those old cars and any vehicle, my kid brother ( owner of the house where we hosted you ) have been in Cuba many times, once some guy he knew asked him for spark plugs for his old Jawa motorcycle ( 2 cycle/2 parallel cyl, 350cc ) so he asked me for help on getting them from a friend's shop, I asked him what kind of spark plugs, if he have the number at any clue, because NGK didn't have that bike listed in the cross reference, he phoned the guy ( uncle of my bro's Cuban girlfriend ) and he replied, any one, car, motorcycle, thread, etc. they just did whatever they need to fit it.
    And as my brother says, Cuban just have 3 flavors: salty, sweet and no flavor at all! They don't use spices as you already know. Cheers!


    Motomano
  12. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    we spoke to a bunch of guys with older cars, the old american ones. they were telling us most of the time they are taxis for locals to use, so for reliability the engine was swapped out to a diesel, Perkins seemed to be a popular choice. this was common for the less good quality cars

    the nicer looking cars (convertible 50's) that were taking the high paying tourists on tours generally had gas motors to appear original, in a long conversation with a driver in havana while his passengers were off taking photos he was telling me a popular choice was the Toyota Hiace/ Hilux motor, the 3.8

    performance would be similar to original but reliability would be dramatically better and parts were easier to find. He also told me that there is now big car clubs and the better ones you have to have your car in original condition with all original parts for some of the clubs. They have over the years created a network with returning tourists to bring or ship parts to the club and the club distributes these on behalf of the members.

    he said anyone could put a request in for a part they were just told we will be in touch if it is found, then you pay and wait!!!

    he explained that his 55 belair if it need a particular part from the US, that part requirement would be sent by letter to a source in maybe canada, germany, sweden, italy where american cars are popular and wait to see what could be found. the part may have to be imported to that country then brought to Cuban the persons (sources) next visit.

    a waiting time of a few years or more was common he told me

    he opened his hood of his car for me, and told me he got his motor direct from japan, his radiator from china, and pointed at a few other little items "my russian friend brought these for me"..."but i can't wait to be able to buy my parts from florida and get them in a week"

    i really hope this Obama thing works out for all of us Cubanos who love America

    another guy approached and we talked motorcycles, he told me it was more difficult with a motorcycle as parts were less abundant, he owned a 50's BSA and Triumph and showed me photos. We have machinists that will try and reproduce parts that are now non existent but we are not like the car guys we want to ride and if a part isn't available we will find a part, retro fit it and MAKE IT WORK!!!

    But for us the LAMA (Latin American Motorcycle Association) is our go to club for help and they have a large worldwide network of contacts for every brand we have here in Cuba
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  13. WJBertrand

    WJBertrand Ventura Highway

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    The Super Tenere must be eliciting some interesting comments. Not sure how many modern motorcycles they ever see in Cuba?
  14. NicolasR

    NicolasR Adventurer

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    Medellin, Colombia
    Hi Paul. I am Nicolas from Medellín, Colombia.
    Let me know when you hit Colombia. Send me a PM. I will be glad to meet you and help you out with anything you need.
    knight and Cmnthead like this.
  15. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    motorcycles and motorcycles with side cars are everywhere most are 350cc and smaller, bigger bikes are Urals w/ sidecars a few harleys (rare) and we did see two sport bikes on cuban plates

    ...but for us we were considered huge, literally every time we stopped we had a crowd, finding our casa particular, leaving it in the morning was usually good for 30-50 people, a gas station we averaged 20-100 people. Everyone that had a phone, and there are a lot, asked first before taking a photo, no one invaded the personal space of the bike meaning they all looked from a distance and pointed, were very polite in asking questions and then being amazed by the answers
  16. rtwpaul

    rtwpaul out riding...

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    thanks, i'll drop you a PM
  17. Goldie05

    Goldie05 Fast George

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    Jul 14, 2009
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    Location:
    Jackson, NJ
    Story of my life too :scratch
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  18. Eagletalon

    Eagletalon Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2011
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    716
    Location:
    Apopka, FL
    Gracias for the update!

    Later
    John
  19. Lesharoturbo

    Lesharoturbo Nerdly Adventurer

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    I remember reading an article in some car mag about 20 years ago detailing how the Cubans got parts for their old GM and Ford cars. They made them from other things. Like one guy who made rings form a galvanized steel pipe that just happened to be the right diameter to fit in a 350 Chevy. They were cut by hand with a coping saw and then split, polished and hardened. It was pretty amazing. This guy was like 70 or so and his 35YO son was his apprentice.

    Lovely people and country.
    rtwpaul likes this.
  20. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

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    Brilliant!!............Some of the pics look like a movie set back in the fifties. Thanks!!
    rtwpaul likes this.