Irishman attempts San Fran - end of the world? Whilst working full time.

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by purrretrog, Oct 14, 2017.

  1. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    I've been using a mix, depending on price/how it looks. Airbnb is my preferred choice purely because I know its someones home, so the wifi is likely to be strong.

    Thanks, managed to go out this morning just out of curiosity and managed to find tires in the first shop I visited, took them 30 mins to fit, was much less hassle then I envisioned :)

    After I got the tires fitted I had the chance to go on my first ride purely for fun, with no location or time frame, just took the bike up around the hills and got lost.

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    Antigua was the perfect place for me to spend a few days getting over fatigue and food poisoning, could probably stay here for a few months if I wanted, but now im fully fit with a new set of tires I have the sudden urge to put in miles, and since ive got plenty to cover, I feel its best to feed the hunger when it comes.

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    Will leave the house tomorrow around 7, if all goes to plan ill cross the border and stop in Playa El Cuco in El Salvador.

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    chudzikb and powderzone like this.
  2. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Guess you could call this a word of warning to anyone planning the same route.

    Left Guatemala and spent the night in San Miguel, El Salvador, the ride was much nicer than I expected, thought it would be like something from 28 days later. Had to do the last leg of day one in the dark, which id like to avoid doing again, I also dropped the bike at one stage(nothing serious) but of all things my horn no longer works, which proved ironically timed as this morning I had to try to scare away a group of goats on the road by reving the engine. A guy came from behind me on a scooter and casually beeped them away. He must have thought I was losing my mind.

    Didnt get much sleep due to work commitments, but still managed to drag myself out of bed for 6am, and arrived at the border at 8. The huge line of trucks is something to remember, im not sure how long they wait for, but guys had made hammocks under their truck/were brushing their teeth, must be a tough wait.

    The El Salvador/Honduras Border:

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    With the heat and knowing I had 4 crossings to do today, I decided to grab a helper, he told me '$5', '$5 to sit in the shade while he gets the copies, sorts out the forms, etc, why not' were my thoughts.

    After the El Salvador crossing he starts to grab somewhat of an entourage, at this point im getting confused, as why are they hanging around if Im just giving this guy 5 bucks?

    He tells me 'We've had some problems, I am sorting them for you'. At this point I know im fucked, hes no longer interacting with me and the others are stopping me when I try to find out what hes up to.

    'Sorry about that, the man put down you had a trailer in El Salvador(he didnt), I had to fix it, they wanted you to return to El Salvador to sort it, but sorted it for $65'

    I was annoyed but I expected to pay ~$30 in fees anyway, learnt my lesson, I thought, I only have $100 bill, so sigh hand him that and expect to get full change almost never.

    He says, 'Ok now I will make sure I get you over the border with no problems'.

    He has all my documents still and I just want to get the F out.

    We cross the border and he introduces me to some Honduras Policemen, we shake hands(wtf) and he says 'Ok, so we had some problems, total cost is $100 more'

    He gets along so well with the Policemen(I guess thats some sort of 'I can make things real difficult if you tell me to F off) I just hand over the money, I mean im in Honduras(?).

    $203 total for the opening crossing, harsh lesson learned, the Honduras exit/Nicaragua border went smooth, met a few guys who just got through the same scam, gona meet them for a few beers tonight to drown our sorrows.
  3. CanuckCharlie

    CanuckCharlie Been here awhile

    May 9, 2014
    Detroit / Toronto
    Fixers are generally scumbags...I got screwed at the Honduras border too for $15 and wasted 3 hours of my time while another guy was in and out in 45 minutes.

    Good write-up and lots of familiar photos. Check out my thread/blog for border crossing tips.
    jeremyjuri, Parcero and purrretrog like this.
  4. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Spent the weekend in Granada, Nicaragua, planned to explore a bit but ended up talking to a few travelers in a hostel as I stopped for a beer, which quickly turned into an all day drinking session, followed by all day recovery Sunday.

    The fish soup was a little more literal than I imagined,
    Photo 12-11-2017, 12 59 59.jpg

    Drove to San Juan Del Sur this morning, roads in Nicaragua are solid, super relaxing not having to worry about potholes or anything on the way. Got some pretty bad news this morning in regards to the Stahlratte, I have been lazy and just checked what dates were available today, turns out they are switching routes come December, and there is only one more trip left this year, which is booked up with 3 reserves. Not too sure how im gona cross the Darien Gap now, plan is just to get myself to Panama and hope to pick up some knowledge either on the way, or when im there.

    DSC_2159 (2).jpg
    KLRalph, Tinker07, roadcapDen and 2 others like this.
  5. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017


    With Stahlratte out, I started weighing up my options, and what I want to do. I dont want to put myself in a position where my lack of Spanish will make me an easy target to be taken advantage of.

    I decided id go home once I got to Panama, it would be one leg of the trip done, and i'd ship the bike back. This is where problems began to rise, no company seemed to ship Panama-UK, even Panama to Europe would do, but nothing. Thought id do the worst case scenario, and sell the bike in Panama. But after some research of the laws(id have to import it), it seems like a major hassle, not to mention potentially too expensive for anyone to consider buying.

    It seems I cant just leave the bike here, it will be noted in my Passport when I get to Panama, or even with that, id need somewhere to store it.

    If anyone can offer some advice it would be appreciated.

    As for now im just wandering through Costa Rica, no real idea of where im headed, just googling a town id like to check out and visiting it each morning.

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    Guess ill run out of land and cross the border into Panama soon, there is no huge rush to get going, I can live and work here until I figure something out, but at the moment its a terrible feeling of being trapped. Even if I did cross into Colombia, and start that trip, the realization of knowing ill be in the same situation when I hit Usuahia is unsettling.

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    On a brighter note, Costa Rica is beautiful, reminds me alot of my time in Thailand, plenty of wildlife and colourful birds around, roads are great fun. This came on in a bar today whilst trying to find a solution and thought it was fitting :)

  6. Blind Warrior

    Blind Warrior Lost in the Ozone

    Oct 12, 2009
    San Clemente, CA
    You have a few options. You can airfreight to Bogota from Panama City. You can try to get a sailboat from somewhere like Portobelo to Cartagena. You can put the bike in bonded storage near Tocumen airport. Depends what you want to do.
  7. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Thanks for the advice, but I got pretty lucky and picked up a reserve spot on the stahlratte :)

    The trip is back on!

    Photo 16-11-2017, 14 47 18.jpg

    Got a message from Ludwig letting me know there was a cancellation and a free spot, so I had a decision to make.

    At first I was going to still go home, I was burnt out, the trips effecting my work, and pulling out would mean i'd be home to see my friends and family for christmas. I'm not really one for material goods but the thought of putting on some new shirts after a month on the road is heaven. Not to mention the crossing isnt exactly cheap.

    I decided to sleep on it, and quickly realised quitting wasnt much of an option, the whole idea of the trip was to discover South America, would be pretty weak sauce if I pulled out before even getting to the continent. How could I ever talk up my next scheme if I proved all those who had doubted this one right?

    So I informed Ludwig i'd be going.

    The ship doesn't set sail until the 27th, so I've quite abit of time to hang around Costa Rica/Panama. Managed to have one of my best investment/work weeks of all time, so that was a nice feeling knowing I've signed myself up for a couple more months of deceptively expensive living.

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    Decided to head to Panama on Monday, gave me the chance to get some work things in order before signing off for a few days with the Stahlratte. Costa Rica border run went smooth, $15 for insurance and no fees into Panama, even managed to avoid some helper tax.

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    First thing I noticed in Panama was the police presence, they are everywhere! I quickly found out that wasnt a great thing as I got my first speeding ticket of the trip about an hour into Panama. Was left cursing my luck given some of the things I have seen on these roads, and its me who gets the ticket for dangerous driving going 65mph on a 50mph road built like a freeway. Im not really sure where I even pay it? or If I can pay it when I leave? If anyone happens to read this any help would be appreciated :)

    Panama City was a nightmare, it rained on and off as it took me 3 hours(!) to go the final 1.7km of my destination. Thought it might have been due to rush hour, but out walking today it appears its just to be the norm.

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  8. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Went to pay my speeding fine today, given my experiences of central america of course I was expecting a well organised, swift process. Sadly this was not to be, after about 3 hours of driving around getting told to go to a new location, I was faced with the manager, who spoke english, she said me to come back Monday, but after I told her I was Colombia bound she said 'well, its not in the system yet, so meh just go'.

    Good enough for me.
    Aces 6 and Parcero like this.
  9. de crowe

    de crowe de crowe

    May 19, 2007
    Enjoying this, stay safe on the road. I was wondering how much you paid for the KLR and how much extra you pay Tuckers for the facility with registration and insurance? P.S. its pissing rain here in Ireland so you are missing nothing!!
  10. Parcero

    Parcero Mundial

    Aug 7, 2008
    Chicago physically, Colombia en mi mente.
    CanuckCharlie couldn’t be more right. “Helpers” seem to add time to the process. The good news is now that you’re out of Central America, the borders are a lot more efficient. Some less so than others but still a far cry better than what you’ve seen so far.
    CanuckCharlie likes this.
  11. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Haha cheers, I paid $3500 for the bike, total was just over 4k, but I got ~$200 of that back when I left the US, as once you cancel they refund what insurance you havent required.

    Yea plus not having the border experience every few days makes it less dread. Colombia today was far from efficient, but at least there was AC and no one pestering me for $.

    Just got off the Stahlratte, prior to going I viewed it as an unavoidable nuisance that I had to get over with, but it turned out to be a great life experience, and arguably the best few days of my trip so far.

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    You spend the first night on an island, dark settles in pretty quickly and you are left with two options, sleep or drink, and its safe to say we choose the later.

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    Stopped off at some islands for lunch/dinner. The beers began to flow again.

    One of the guys pulling some moves off the ratte.

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    Pretty funny, there is a guy who lives on that island with his family, he said at the moment she is away doing the shopping, it typically takes her 15 days!

    You spend two nights on board the ship, both nights I just stayed on the top deck.
    blalor likes this.
  12. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    The unloading of the bikes was real smooth, all 22(ish) bikes were off and on the road in about 30 mins.

    The power hour
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    The border was much less organised, the guys at the Stahlratte sort out most of the work required before we arrive, so we were expecting a quick move. But in true Latin American fashion the manager went out to lunch, quite literally, amongst other things. We arrived at 9am and got going at around 3:30.

    Patiently waiting to hit the road
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    Overall it was a great experience, as a guy with 0 rider friends its great to speak and learn abit from guys with more knowledge. Hearing peoples experiences and stories really reminds how great trips like this are. 3 days off work drinking beer and eating lobster wasnt too bad either.

    Staying in Catagena tonight, before trying to put in some miles and get to Medellin before the weekend.
  13. Golden955

    Golden955 Been here awhile

    Jul 28, 2016
    Brilliant so far, thank you.
    purrretrog likes this.
  14. dano619

    dano619 Been here awhile

    Sep 4, 2011
    sunny san diego
    Nice update......glad you are enjoying yourself!!
    purrretrog likes this.
  15. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Cheers guys :)

    No pictures so far in Colombia unfortunately, the last 150km ride into Medellin is superb. Above the clouds with lots of turns, just too dangerous to stop and take a photo. Shoulda bought the gopro.

    Went out for a stroll in Medellin today, my friends advised me not to stay in the 'city centre', but I arrived late last night so my hands where tied, 'how bad can it be?'.

    I went down to 'Parque Berrio' described on google as 'Busy, historic city square with many trees, benches, vendors & a notable statue.' a rather flattering description.

    The streets were lined with addicts, seen a few guys inject themselves, a 60+ yr old prostitute drop a wad of cash whilst running to hand it to her pimp(im assuming their roles), guys just urinate right out in the street, one guy was even jerking off lol. A few times I just had to about turn the opposite direction as someone just started going insane meters ahead. Its the only place ive ever been afraid to take my phone out of my pocket to check maps.

    Ended walking through a market were meat/fish/everything was just laid out in the heat, process consisted of holding breath, walking as far as I can, then accepting ill have to breathe in some foul smell again.

    Was relieved to get back to the hotel, but now ive sat down pretty funny how crazy an experience it was. Would make for some great pics, but it would take a braver man than me to go back in those parts with a DSLR and sit and snap.

    Was meant to stay here for a week, but might move on after 4 or 5 if the outter parts of the city prove to be similar.
    powderzone and chudzikb like this.
  16. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    A friend decided to call in a favour whilst I was in Medellin, he needed a laptop picked up, some software added, then moved on to the next spot. Cool, told him I really dont like the city so would like to be moving on, but would stay an extra day to help him out. Tomorrow we go on to day 2. Give them an inch theyll take a yard :)

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    Since im stuck here for a few days, I think ill check out the cable cars and some other stuff. I've lost a screw on the footpeg of the bike, the whole peg comes loose every hour or so, hopefully Ill get that sorted.
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    Haven't really had the chance to take some photos of the city, so for now ill have to make due with a few photos from the roof of my hostel/hotel.

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    Golden955, roadcapDen and chudzikb like this.
  17. jeremyjuri

    jeremyjuri Adventurer

    Nov 28, 2017
    Los Angeles
    Overall it was a great experience, as a guy with 0 rider friends its great to speak and learn abit from guys with more knowledge. Hearing peoples experiences and stories really reminds how great trips like this are. 3 days off work drinking beer and eating lobster wasnt too bad either.

    Staying in Catagena tonight, before trying to put in some miles and get to Medellin before the weekend.[/QUOTE]

    I'm planning to take trip like this in April 2018. I was wondering how did customs go when you arrived in Cartagena? I keep hearing different stories.

    1. It was easy and fun.
    2. It was difficult and a nightmare.


    Did you have to pay any additional fees? I read a new law passed where sailboats weren't allowed to go from Panama to Colombia anymore. I don't know, but I want to be as prepared as possible. Thanks in advanced and good luck on your travels!
  18. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    Wouldn't describe any border crossing as easy or fun, but with the Stahlratte all the paperwork is already done for you by the time you arrive(you do pay for this), so there is no running around or getting photocopies in the heat, which happens at some other places. No hassling, etc. Had to wait a long time to get our documents, we were told this was cause customs said the place we unloaded the bikes wasn't legal. No additional fees.

    Not too sure on the legality of the crossing, but Stahlratte has an account here and im sure Ludwig would know the current situation.

    Left Medellin on Tuesday and put in a few days riding, spent the night in Cali before heading towards the border, the road to the border is awesome, unfortunately not many great places to stop for photos, but took this one, doesnt really do the route justice.

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    Just before I got to the border, was directed towards the most insane road. A dirt track with an insanely steep angle. Decided i'd tackle it, was a mistake and dropped the bike :), nothing damaged which was a relief. Had to take a pic, its steeper than it looks here(I swear).

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    Was informed at the border id have to queue to get my exit stamp, a queue was went round the entire building, was a pretty frustrating experience.

    I just want to go there
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    Total time to exit Colombia was ~2 hours, the group ahead of me got denied entry to Colombia, which resulted in tears and tantrums, ill be honest it was pretty entertaining.

    Ecuador border crossing took <30mins, was smooth and friendly. No fees which is beautiful.

    It was starting to get dark so decided to stop at the first large town over the border, Ibarra. Stayed in a hostal with a Belgian owner who moved here because he fell in love with how lazy the people are, which I thought was pretty funny, he was a artist and abit of a hippy of course, a real nice guy.

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    After reading Lonestars thread, it became apparent that I needed to get a Yellow Fever vac, in Quito, so will spend the weekend there.
    chudzikb and Golden955 like this.
  19. Stahlratte

    Stahlratte Been here awhile

    May 16, 2012
    Panama / Colombia (can't delete old link below)
    Never heard that before. As far as I know Ludwig picked the shipyard for unloading because he can do it legally there. Other boats often do it without proper paperwork and insurance on some small dock which (as customs told us) is not legal. Every year they prohibit sailboats to bring motos to Cartagena because of that and Ludwig has to negotiate new conditions so that we can continue providing that service (very annoying...). Part of those negotiations this year was that we have to do the unloading in that shipyard... So please make sure if you find a boat that they take care of the paperwork and that your bike is insured before it leaves the boat.
    Cheers, Stefan
    powderzone and Golden955 like this.
  20. purrretrog

    purrretrog Adventurer

    Jul 12, 2017
    There was an email sent out after regarding the wait, I just browsed it but I think thats what it said, but I could be wrong(ive deleted it :()

    Grabbed my yellow fever vac here in Quito, the process only took around 15 mins which brings a nice change. The vac left me sick for the night, I hear thats pretty common. It looked as if I was going to be bedridden for the night, until I got a few much needed adrenaline shots. Some people tried to break into my hostel, luckily the place was built like Fort Knox and they didnt get in, but it was a pretty terrifying experience, they were trying to break down the doors, etc. Heard a woman screaming for about 10 mins after on the street before police arrived, was a scream unlike anything ive heard before. I didnt hear any violence, just that scream. Safe to say I didnt get any sleep for the rest of the night. Was half expecting the bike to be gone in the morning, but all was good.

    YF cert:
    Photo 08-12-2017, 18 20 38.jpg

    The weekend was spent mainly betting sports and doing some investment research, hoping to put in serious miles next week.

    Just had to film this guy, on a bmx with his earphones in just holding onto the back of a truck :)