Sunday, 19 March 2017

March 17, 2017

It's 5:30 am, and we begin the process of packing our bikes, last time for awhile. The hotel offers us a free breakfast, which we enjoy prior to our departure. Down the road, "Ferry Terminal" in sight,we are ready to embark on this final leg of the journey. "Alaska" is the next leg, but will have to wait till late spring, after some bike repairs are completed, and we all get together again. Our plan is coming together nicely, boarding the ferry, on time, on the targeted day, perfect. All we have to do is relax, and enjoy the sailing across the straits. Now with "Victoria" in our sights we become a little anxious, perfectly normal, considering the length of time we have been away from loved ones. Exiting the ferry, with the first wave of cars, we are directed through customs, and must "Import" the motos. An hour later we are on our way. Stopping for a coffee, and to put on extra gear, we meet people who are most interested in our trip. The "Chilean" license plate, a dead giveaway. After some interesting conversations, it's time to bury the last 100 kilometers in the odometer. Jon and I parted ways in "Ladysmith" and will soon be with our families. It has been a great adventure, 27,430 kilometers and "15 countries in 113 days", but it is sure nice to be home. Al Nino

March 16, 2017

It is a cold morning, but the rain has stopped, the sun is rising, looks promising. On the road early, it is chilly, but we are dry, wont be long and we will be in "Portland". Both Jon and myself have things to do there, so we take a few hours to accomplish them, then it's back on the road. So far so good, no moisture, although the clouds are building. It has been a cold day of riding, but we are determined to reach our goal. Entering the "Olympic Peninsula" and joining up with "Highway 101" again, we go through a small pocket of rain. The shower lasted about 10 minutes, then we were back to dry roads. Accomplishing the goal of making it to "Port Angeles" was a great feeling or us, and we booked our passage on the "Coho", for the first sailing in the morning, immediately after we checked into the hotel. Tomorrow we will be home. Al Nino

March 15, 2017

The "Weather Network" seems to be a popular watch for motorcyclists, at least with us it is. Word has it, rain is on the menu for today's ride, can't wait for the thrill, of hardly being able to see what's in front of you. Decked out in our rain gear, it's down the "Interstate" for us. Stopping in "Eugene" for a coffee to warm us up, the rain continues to increase in volume, and by the time we get to "Salem" the decision is made, to call it quits for today. The wind and rain are making driving conditions miserable. Jon is soaked, and cold, so we visit "Cycle Gear", and he aquires some warmer gear. Then we check into a "Motel 6" in the area, nice friendly staff greet us and get us settled in. Maybe the shivering had something to do with it. It is supposed to clear up by tomorrow morning, so we are hoping to make it to "Port Angeles" Washington by days end. Al Nino

March 14, 2017

Foggy morning, bikes are soaked with moisture, looks like the wait is on. Waiting to drive, while the fog lifts, we decide it's a good time to change sparkplugs, and check things over. Rolling over 26,000 kilometers on this little machine in 3.5 months, amazing, talk about a testing ground. Unfortunately a few days ago while in California Andy's bike packed it in. Again, another true test of man and machine, we have put these bikes through hell. It has been a test, both physicaly and mentally for all riders involved on this adventure. Now time to roll, Jon and I will ride up the "101", drive through the "Redwoods" and end up in "Crescent City".The ride falls into place nicely, but temperatures are cooler, next to the water, and dense forest. Stopping for gas and food in "Crescent", we are pretty cold. Change of plan, no more "101", we opt for the "199" through to "Grants Pass" Oregon. Nice road for a bike, and it will connect us to the "I-5", hopefully warmer and drier. Riding till almost dark we stop in "Roseburg" for the evening. Jon gets us a military discount on our room, nice touch to end the day. "Portland" is on our radar for tomorrow. Al Nino

March 13, 2017

The "Golden Gate Bridge" will be one of the bigger highlights of today's ride. Then we plan on taking the coastal route "Highway 1", to "Crescent City" a longer route, but defintley more scenic. Getting through the early morning city traffic definitely keeps you on your game. Finally the road opens up, through the tunnels we go and there she is. Majestic, towering over us, we hit the centre lane, and on goes the helmet cams. Hundreds of pedestrians are walking the bridge, "Alcatraz" to my right, this is a great day indeed. Stopping on the far side of the bridge for photos, and enjoying the views of the bay and city. You can appreciate the views of the bridge from here as well, what an engineering marvel. Onwards we go down "Highway 101" then connect with "Highway 1", unfortunately part of the highway has been closed due to landslides. We are detoured for several miles, but eventually reconnect at "Stinson Beach", nice twisty road down the mountain. Now cruising up "1", the views of the coast beautiful, cool sea air, and really twisty road. What more could a motorcyclist ask for. Enjoying the ride, stopping for photos, and meeting the locales.Taking a break in the village of "Jenner", it is here we part ways with Scott. Jon and I are eager to get home, Scott has a different schedule than ours, seeyou back in "Canada". He continues on "1", we take "Highway "116" to "Santa Rosa", reconnect with "101", and continue north to"Laytonville" where we stay the night.Al Nino

Monday, 13 March 2017

March 12, 2017

"San Francisco" here we come. That is our riding goal for today. Waiting a little for the sun to warm things up, and burn off some foggy patches that grace the highway, we lube our chains, check the oil etc. Down the road we go, not too much traffic, it is still early Sunday morning. That doesn't last too long, the masses are out in full force in a few hours. As long as we stay in the right lane things will be just fine. The tiny "Motos" don't qualify for the left lane, they are too slow, and everyone here drives incredibly fast. Cutting through the landscape like a serpent, the scenery from the highway is beautiful, and we also encounter many large vineyards and farms along our route. Making it just to the outskirts of "San Francisco", we opt to get off the road and will head into the city first thing tomorrow morning. Al Nino

March 11, 2017

Our start today was a bit delayed, heavy dew has our tents soaked with moisture. Thank goodness the bright orb in the sky will help remedy the situation. Gear all dry and packed up, its time to get going. It's a bit chilly riding next to the coast, but the scenery is well worth the chill. Our plan is to just keep pushing north, at a reasonable pace, and enjoy the surroundings we pass through. By late afternoon we are ready to settle down in new camp surroundings. We go to the private campground of "Ocean Mesa" at el capitan, a nice place to hang your hat for the night. Conviently located just off "Highway 101", they offer free hot showers, swimming pool, a store and wifi. Tent pads made of sand, nice and soft for sleeping. We took advantage of the showers, good and hot, with lots of pressure. They have fresh coffee at the store to get you going in the morning, a nice change from camp coffee. Al Nino

March 10, 2017

"Adios Ensenada" it has been nice, but the border beckons us. Only two more borders to cross till we are home. Great day to ride, sunny, fresh ocean air, to clear the cobwebs between the ears. A quick 100 kilometers or so and the border is ours. Unfortunatley for us, we missed the "Aduana" on the Mexican side of the border to export the bikes. Realizing this as we were about to enter into the U.S.A we had to go back into Mexico and export the bikes out of the country. Then it's back to the U.S.A again. Just a little hiccup, no big deal, we get to the front of the line of traffic again, in minutes, lane splitting, is very effective. This border crossing has to be one of the easier ones I have encountered over the past 3 months. Now cruising down the road, we will go as far as "San Mateo" where we will camp at the State Park. Arriving just before sunset, we set up, eat and enjoy a great nights sleep under the star filled sky. Al Nino

March 9, 2017

Having a nice ride through "Ensenada", this morning, amazing how you see different parts of a town when you are lost. Eventually we get to the bike shop. "Honda Optima" and are greeted by Daniel Villalobos. He is the go to guy there, he took really good care of us, our tires were on in no time, and we even left with some gifts from him. After a photo shoot outside, we left to do a little riding and break in the new tires. Then back to the hotel to deal with the "Insurance Binder". After several hours of talking on the phone and scanning documents etc. I was holding my binder in hand. Jon and Scott will hopefull have theirs by morning, as Ed and Tim must talk to the insurer and pay on their end because they own the bikes. No plans for the evening, just take it easy, as we leave early tomorrow, and cross into the "United States".Al Nino

March 8, 2017

Another beautiful sunrise, awakens the desert. The scenery that surrounds us in this region is outstanding.  After a quick coffee we take to the road, not a big ride today, so we can slow it down a notch. Great day for pictures, even do a little off roading for some snaps. Jon is happy, he loves gravel, dust and potholes, being the off road enthusiast that he is. By mid afternoon we are entering the city of "Ensenada", where we will arrange to have tires changed and get a little down time before the final push home. We bunk down at the "El Ray Sol" hotel, nice place, I have stayed here before a number of years ago. Good parking for the "Motos", with security. The town is bustling with cruise ship passengers, lots of smiling faces from both passenger and shopkeeper. The streets, clean and tidy, the aroma of fresh cooked food fills the night air. We opt for an early dinner then hit the sheets. Lots to do tomorrow, get tires and arrange for an "Insurance Binder" from "I.C.B.C" to get us through the "USA" to home.Al Nino

March 7, 2017

Fresh coffee, piping hot oatmeal, what a way to start the day after a great nights sleep. Full of energy and ready to get at it, we break camp, and continue on our way north. Not knowing how far we will get today, but we intend to push on as much as possible. "Ensenada" is over 800 kilometers away so it is doubtful we will make it there in one shot. Road conditions, wind, and day light hours, all big factors , and play a big role in our progress. We have been experiencing strong headwinds for a good part of the ride so far today, defintley putting us behind. It is very tiring, and slows our "Poquito Motos" down substantially. Grabbing a bite and coffee in the town of "Guerrero Negro" we make a plan for the rest of the ride today. We will get fuel at the "Pemex" station in "Villa Jesus Maria". There is no fuel after that for 325 kilometers, except for one stop at the 200 kilometer mark where you can buy fuel out of a barrel. Riding till almost dark we get to the village of " Catavina" and check into the hotel, only one there, nice place and very spacious rooms, Jon opted for the floor, so he got the good guy deal. Tired and cold it will be an early night for us, and "Ensenada" is on our radar for tomorrow.  Al Nino

March 6, 2017

The morning air crisp, the sunrise beautiful, so many birds foraging amongst the desert foliage. Amazing the abundance of life the desert holds. Excited to get going early, as we want to visit "Loreto" today, then continue to the small coastal town of "Mulaje" where we will camp for the night. All goes as planned, great ride amongst the "Cacti" clad roads, beautuful scenery, just an awesone day. Arriving at our campsite early, we took advantage of the hot showers, ate dinner, and enjoyed the sunset. Darkness falls upon us rapidly, the desert air is chilly, and the winds have picked up. Sounds like the perfect recipe to retire to our comfortable little dwellings, for the night. All is well in the "Baja". Al Nino

March 5,2017

Our stay at the "One Hotel" in"La Paz" has been an enjoyable experience. A very clean establishment, that also offers you a complimentary breakfast, has a rooftop pool, lounging area, and great views of the city from there. Also a washer and dryer that are for guest usage. Scott made contact this morning, and is having his carbeurtor worked on, he has been halving stalling issues, and must be rectified. Agreeing to meet him at 12:30 p.m. in "La Paz", we will head north and see where we end up. Upon Scotts arrival he picks up a few last minute items, and off we go. The plan was to make it as far as "Loreto", but darkness is working against us, as we had a late start. Camping is still on the agenda, and we have been told of a campground near "Insurgenties" a small town south of "Loreto". Not being able to locate the campground on "gps", either it is not up and running anymore, or we have missed it in the darkness. We pull into a petrol station and ask the attendant for assistance. He graciously offers us to set up camp behind the station in a field, for free, "bonus". He assures us it is safe, there are lots of trucks parked, while the truckers sleep. Being dark, cold, and tired, it didn't take much convincing for us to stay. First time for everything we thought. Camp was set up quickly, and we cooked dinner the same. Lights out, was soon to follow, nothing like a good nights sleep in a tent, below the stars, and breathing in the cool desert air. Al Nino

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

March 4, 2017

The ship was pretty busy by 6:00 am, passengers walking about, going outside for their wake up breath of fresh air. Over coffee we agreed on how little sleep we had as well, even though we tried different areas of the ship. Andy, outside on an air mattress. Jon and I on random couches, and Scott on the floor of the rear T.V. lounge area. Oh well, ferries are noisy, no matter what time it is, although it was pretty quiet between 2:00 am and 6:00 am. Docked and departing the ferry by 9:30, we must pay a fee of "87 Pesos" per bike at security, then to the military clearance zone we go for inspection and passports. Thumbs up, we all head down the road and into "La Paz". Jon and Scott will have their chains replaced asap. We locate a shop and things get underway. After some discussion, Scott is heading to the town of "Todos Santos" this afternoon, his brother lives there, and will rejoin Jon and myself in "La Paz" tomorrow. We will be getting supplies for camping and catching up on some much needed rest. Andy was going to see the whales in "San Ignacio", we will meet up with him at a later date. The bikes were ready to go by 2:00 pm. Scott hit the road, and Jon and I went about our business, then checked ourselves into a hotel. Looking forward, to getting things organized, hot showers, food and sleep. Al Nino

March 3, 2017

At it early, I say my goodbyes to Doug and off I go. Planning on taking another route to "Mazatlan" my decision is altered as the new route seems cluttered with slow moving vehicles, due to roadwork. I turn back and take the more direct route to "Tepic" and continue on to "Highway 15d, which is a direct route into "Mazatlan". As I am heading down highway 15d, Scott and Jon appear in my rear view mirrors, they are coming from "Guadalajara", talk about timing, or sheer coincidence. Glad to see each other again, we rode together for awhile, then parted, only to meet at the "Ferry " later on. The "Baha Ferry" procedures differ from ours some what. First you check in with security, then pick up your ticket at the ticket office, then drive to the military checkpoint, where drug dogs and soldiers check you out. Then drive to the holding area, where you load after the cars, inside and up a ramp you go, to one side and strap your bikes down with tiedowns. Anticipating rough seas, or just being prepared. Then up the stairs, it's passport and ticket time again. Really!! Maybe their giving out a prize to a passenger who shows their passport the most in 3 hours. It was smooth sailing so far, nice ship, with some cabins, lounge area, and big sleeper seats. Pretty tired after riding, and all the ferry procedures, we will see how much sleep we catch during the 13 hour voyage. Al Nino

March 2, 2017

Another day of relaxation, reorganization, and laundry. Dropped laundry off a the "Lavanderia", they washed and folded all my clothes, except my bathing suit, which I was wearing. Total for "3 kilos of laundry" 42 pesos, that's $2.75 Canadian dollars, what a deal. After lunch, I went to get the bike, and was most impressed. The staff and service was exceptional, right on time and my bike was washed as well. Off I go back to the hotel teeth chattering, on the cobble stones, but most happy to have my bike serviced. Andy headed up north to meet some friends, and stay the night. I will stay one more night with Doug, and will meet up with Scott, Jon, and Andy in "Mazatlan" tomorrow, where we will take the ferry to "LaPaz" on the "Baja". Back at the hotel, taking in the last moments of the sun, we are entertained by a musician. His name, "Vallarta Cowboy" this man is a total entertainment package. He could be a stand up comic, a very funny individual with great songs, and stories. It will be an early night tonight, as I must get to "Mazatlan" by early afternoon to board the ferry. Arrival time at the terminal is "Tres" hours before departure, for processing, security etc, and is a requirement of "Baja Ferries" Al Nino

March 1, 2017

Awakening to a beautuful day, going to be a great ride into "Puerto Vallarta". Highway 200 is a definite blast, lots of twisty's to keep you on the edge of your seat. Arriving early in the day, and continuing on to the "Rosita Hotel" to meet with Doug the town is bustling. As I get close I hear someone yelling at me, there is my "Amigo" Doug on the street, and Andy is with him. I park my bike in the hotel lobby, along with a few other bikes, lots of room, not invasive to other guests. Doug checks me into his room, and then it is pool time. Looking forward to some down time off the bike. Lots of kilometers this past week. Doug has an extended family in "P.V" really nice people, who return every year and have for many years. It was a real pleasure meeting them, and they made us feel most welcome. Thanks to, Olden, Jack, Doug, Norm, Colleen, Darryl, Bill, Richard, Corrine, Jeff,and Roma for your hospitality. Earlier I had made arrangements to have a new chain put on the bike. Dropping my "moto" off at "Comoto Honda, Puerto Vallarta" just a few kilometers away, and will pick it up tomorrow. Taking a cab back to the hotel was an experience, bouncing around on the cobblestone streets, they must, have suspension issues with their vehicles. The rest of the day was laid back and we will meet for dinner. Dougs choice, and ribs it is, sounds delightful. Al Nino

Feb 27/28, 2017

What a treat, sleep in till 8:30 am, been overdue. Still have things to take care of today, must do things, no excuses. First on the agenda, rondivou with Scott, using "Uber", which was most impressive. After coffee and breakfast, we went our seperate ways. Ed and Scott have the pleasure of getting the "Podor", lucky guys. Jon and myself are off to pick up oil for the bikes, new chains, and insurance, change out the oil, chains, and get the "motos" road worthy. Oil and insurance accomplished, we missed the boat, with the chains. Our insurance visit took longer than expected, and the shop was closed. "Putting my "VIN" on Jons paperwork, it all had to be redone. Accuracy is key here, always check your documents. Left unoticed, we would probably have a major issue trying to leave the country. All must be correct when importing and exporting our "motos", T's crossed I's dotted. Chains will have to wait, I am leaving "Mexico City" at 5:30 am , and heading to "Puerto Vallarta. I will meet with Doug, a friend from "Nanaimo" who spends a portion of the winters there. Unfortunately his wife Helen has already returned home, somebody has to take care of the homefront, we will toast one for her just the same. Riding all day and into the evening, I made it to the town of "Compostela" tucked away in the mountains,120 kilometers from "PV". After 835 kilometers, time to get off the road. Checked into the "Plaza Hotel " and lights out. "P.V" will be "Menyana" Al Nino

February 26, 2017

Big day of riding ahead of us, plannng on making it to "Mexico City". My ass is already sore just thinking about it. Fortunatley the roads have improved, double lanes, divided highway, we will be screaming down the road, at least the engines will be. Making good time, our stops for fuel and food are relatively quick. The highway is very busy and there are many "Toll Booths" to contend with. Think I actually spent more money on tolls than fuel. Line ups can be long, unless you ride down the shoulder of the road like we do, then you just simply cut in front. No problem, "Perfecto". Nobody gets mad at you, because there are guards with guns, and lots of them. It was a very long day of riding, but we managed to pull it off, and were relieved to see the lights of the big city, 788 kilometers later. Tomorrow we meet up with Scott, he is taking over Ed's bike, and they need to seek out a "Notary" and get a "Podor" drawn up for Scott to continue with the ride, as Ed is flying home on Wednesday. Al Nino

February 25, 2017

Hoping to get from "Tikal" to the border of "Mexico" it is another early start to the day. Bikes all packed up and ready to go at 7:00 am. We say our farewells to our new friend "Juan", and Ed gave him a Canadian ball cap which was really nice. Quite foggy this morning, so it slows us a little at the start, but soon the sun pulls through for us and all is clear. We stop in the town of "Flores" for breakfast, and enjoy the view of the lake. A few hours pass and we hit the border of "El Ceibo", not too crowded, couldn't be better. We check out of "Guatemala" in record time. Now into "Mexico", that went pretty well also, wow things are looking up. Off we go heading for the town of "Villahermosa" where we will stop for the night. Traveling just over 500 kilometers with a border crossing, and hot riding conditions is tiring. Stopping at the "Carmalita's 42 Su Hotel" we had nice clean rooms, and secure parking, for our tired two wheeled friends.  Al Nino

Monday, 27 February 2017

February 24, 2017

Awakening to the sounds of the "Howler Monkeys" is quite something. Amazing how loud they actually are, kind of eery as well, especially at 5:00 am. After breakfast I was joined by Ed and Jon, they decided to stay the day as well. Ed took a tent beside me and Jon set his own up on the grass, half the price. We set out to explore the ruins, lathered in sunscreen and bug spray. It was very hot, but we did get shade on the jungle trails which helped cool us down. Spotting the odd "Monkey" resting in the canapy above was an added bonus. "Tikal" is absolutely breathtaking, almost unimaginable, to think of the time, and effort, to build such a kingdom. There is still so much of it to be excavated, yet what has been done this far, mind boggling. We climed a "Temple" 60 meters up, sat there and looked over the canopy. There were a few other temples to be seen from this height, but most are hidden beneath the jungle. We climbed and hiked around the ruins for about 5 hrs, still not taking it all in. This is a massive "Ancient Civilization". Back at the hotel, we cooled down, and cleaned up for dinner. Nice hot showers out back of the tent area to make you feel refreshed. An early dinner tonight as it has been an exhausting day. The restaurant offers a good variety of food and beverages. Our waiter "Juan" was a delightful individual, great personality and most helpful when ordering, or asking questions about the area. We had some good laughs together "Adios "Amigo" Al Nino,

February 23, 2017

Exiting "Honduras" was painless, entering "Guatamala" was a real treat. Everone was friendly, and most helpful. Charlie at the "Aduana" office was probably the most pleasant person that we have had to deal with so far. He made our importation of the bikes a simple, quick and totally stress free. We would like to thank him for his efforts. The "Costa Rica" "Aduana" could learn a thing or two from thus guy. The countryside is beautiful, lush with jungle covered mountains, quite a sight to see. Our plan is to make it to "Tikal" and do some exploring of the ruins. By the time we arrive it is getting late, too dark, too soon. Andy and I rent the tents that are setup behind the "Jaguar Hotel", pretty cool, mattresses and bedding included. Tomorrow will be the day to explore the ruins. Falling asleep was blissful, listening to the sounds of the jungle. Al Nino

Sunday, 26 February 2017

February 22, 2017

Another great day is unfolding before us, warm temps, blue skies, all the right ingredients for a days ride. Our plan has been to quickly go through "Honduras", much like we did in "Nicaragua". Even though we would like to stay longer, we are trying to make up for lost time, due to shipping delays. Again we will ride close to the border of "Guatemala" find a place to stay, and shoot for the border early in the morning. Getting as far as the city of "Puerto Cortes" and checked into a Hotel near the beach. The parking lot is secure for the bikes, security guards with pistol grip shotguns, seems to be the weapon of choice here. Early to bed, early to rise, another early start and another border to cross. Al Nino

February 21, 2017

"Nicaraguan" border by 7:30 am, man we are getting good at this. Today we were approached by the masses of people at the border, helpers who are looking for some income, and it can really help at times. After the fumigation of the bikes, we agreed to hire a team of interpreters, money well spent. They arranged our entrance, insurance, and handled all the paper work. Jon had a bit of an issue with his "Podor", but the guys came through and it all came together. Soon we are barreling down the highway. Driving right through "Nicaragua" and on to "Honduras" we get to the border at dark, and begin the process again. Twice in one day, we must be nuts, actually we are. After a few more hours we are through, pretty good going actually, but exhausting just the same. Now at the town of "El Paraiso" and checked into the "Hotel Isis" a pretty budget dwelling. Ed was blessed with an electrical fire in his room. Nothing like the smell of electrical wires melting to help you relax. He eventually moved to another room. All was quiet until they started their backup generator for power. That didn't last too long, think they ran out of fuel. No power for the rest of the night, but no more fires as well. Another day in the life of a "Panamerican Rider". Al Nino

February 20, 2017

After a little adjustments to the "Motos" we are making traks and heading towards "Nicaragua". On the way Jon, Ed and myself, went to a nice beach Jon scouted out. Nice ride and well worth it, beatiful sand, good wave action, and no one there. After a walk in the cooling water, some great photo shoots of the area, we continued on to the campground near the border. "Canas Castilla" is a lovely spot to camp, great surroundings and full of wildlife. Nice hosts, good food and you can get your exit fee done in advance. Helps speed up the border process. Beautiful river runs through the property, Jon asked about swimming, and we were told that a crocodile had been around, but not for the past few days. That's a pass we agreed, we camped away from the river, in the open field. Only the sounds of the "Howler Monkeys" to rock us too sleep. Early day "MaƱana. Al Nino

February 19, 2017. Costa Rica

It is best to be at the border crossings early, and we are getting pretty good at it so far. Getting out of "Panama" was smooth, even with the electronic fingerprint scans and photos. "Costa Rica" so close we can taste it. First we visit "Imigration", no problem, then off to get "Insurance", no problem, then off to the "Aduana" to import the bikes. Suddenly our world falls apart, we are blessed to run into the most arrogant person one can imagine. I like to refer to him as "Mr. Grande Pinchazo". He totally was rude, made fun of us and caused us grief beyond belief. He would not accept our ownership papers for our bikes. Funny how the other seven countries we visited did, with no issues. We were basically forced to hire a "Lawyer" to endorse documents for us that the papers were real, and to make things worse it was a Sunday. This guy made our entrance into "Costa Rica" a living hell, and he enjoyed it. We have all decided to write to his superiors and make formal complaints. Also have him on video, so no guessing who we are talking about, and will forward a picture as well. This person should not be in the position he is in, and is an embassment to the country of "Costac Rica". After another five hours we were good to go, we travelled as far as the seaside town of "Jaco" and we will camp close to the "Nicaraguan" border tomorrow.  Al Nino

Saturday, 25 February 2017

February 18, 2017

Here we go again, back to "Colon", all checked out and on the road by 7:00 am. Arriving at the container terminal just before 8:00 am, we should get the process rolling right away. After about an hour we are directed to another office on the facility, more paperwork, and more waiting. Then we are advised of the extra " Port Fees" we must pay. After paying that hefty bill, sure wish the shipping broker would have told us first, as this was an expensive surprise. We waited to be taken in groups to the container. Finally unloading the bikes then following the dock hand to the customs office to get clearance. Around 1:00 pm we were on our way, not bad, only five hours today. Heading back towards Panama City, we stopped for lunch and said our farewells to Tim and headed towards "Costa Rica". Driving well into the night we put our heads to rest in the town of "David", and will be close to the border for an early morning crossing to "Costa Rica". Al Nino

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

February 17, 2017

Right on que, it is off to "Colon" we go. It is an exiting day for us, we are all ready to ride and continue our journey. At the "Evergreen Terminal" we are given bad news, our container is delayed by another day. We can't beleive what they are telling us. Our shipping broker in  "Cartagena" did not email us till we arrived at the terminal. A little late, and the person behind the counter says come back on Monday. Blood pressure rises, we have now been delayed five days. Explaining to them that is not acceptable, and demanding some sort of guaranteed time frame. We are assured the container will be in port by this evening, and we can pick them up tomorrow mornning. Fortunately for us, we were given our "Bill of Lading" so we could start the process of importation at the "Aduana" get insurance and be ready for tomorrow. This process only took about six hours to complete. Almost as painful as a tooth extraction. With paperwork in hand it is back to "Panama City" for us. We will repeat the process tomorrow morning, and should get our bikes from the container. There's the issue of another days "Car rental and Hotel costs", fortunately we all have insurance for trip delays. Al Nino

February 16, 2017

No big plans today, decided to do some souvenir shopping and generally take it easy. Tomorrow we leave town early and go to "Colon" where we will start the process of getting our bikes from the shipping container. We have also decided to rent a vehicle for the trip to "Colon" rather than take a shuttle. It makes economical sense, and Tim still needs to return with his luggage to "Panama" to catch his Sunday flight. Being our last night in "Panama City" it is out to dinner, as it will be the last one we spend together with Tim and Trevor.  Al Nino

Monday, 20 February 2017

February 15,2017

Deciding to take in the "Panama Canal" and "City Tour" should fill in most of the day for us. Keeping busy is a must, we are all itching to get on the road again. We depart at 9:00 am, it is a hot and sunny day, perfect for sightseeing. At the "Canal" we first take in a short narrative film on the history, engineering and building of this amazing waterway. The "Museum" is just as fascinating, four floors of history, even a navigation simulator, which adds to the aura. We were lucky enough to witness a "Cruise Ship" in the locks. Watching it rise to the next level, gates open and then proceeds forward with the aid of the "Mules" that are tethered to the ship. A most interesting morning to say the least. Our driver, was very informative as we took in the city, harbours and various areas of town. Back at the hotel it was time for a dip in the pool, which is located on the roof, and has a great view of the modern downtown area. It wouldn't be long before Trevor made an appearence. Wow we thought, he made it, as he had to go on a entirely different route, to get himself and bike to "Panama" a slow boat up the coast with several stops in various villages along the way. He would also like to express his gratitude to Magnolia, her son Victor, and the staff at the "Costa del Sol Hotel" who helped him in "Turbo".  Al Nino

Thursday, 16 February 2017

February 14, 2017

"HAPPY VALENTINES DAY" from "PanamaCity" Al Nino

February 13, 2017

We were supposed to be retrieving our "Motos" today in "Colon", but a few days ago while on the sailboat, we received the news. There is a four day delay in the shipping, due to the freighter being damaged. So it's off to "Panama" for an extended stay. There is nothing we can do about it and we will adjust our itinerary accordingly. So much for great timing, just another day in the life of a "PanamericanRider. Checked into the "Hotel Montreal" we can catch up on some much needed sleep, etc. A trip to the "Panama Canal seems to be in the cards as well as taking in a city tour over the next few days. Al Nino

February 11,2017

Sunrise, another beautiful day, up comes the anchor and away we go. Our route today will take us to an island with approximately 20 inhabitants. Arriving in the early afternoon, we all go ashore. It will be a day to snorkel, swim, and relax. Fresh lobster is on the menu for lunch and later we will be having a barbecue, and enjoy the traditional drink "Cocoa Loco". A cocktail mixed in a fresh coconut, cut by the locales. Then another fire for all to enjoy. It is "Keenans 13th birthday today, he is the son of "Captain Charlie" and his wife "Nathalie". It was a fun filled night, enjoyed by all. Anchored for the night, sleep will come easy as the sea is calm. Al Nino

February 10,  2017

Everyone on board is up early, probably due to the rough seas. It takes some getting used to, and we haven't acquired our sea legs yet. It was a refreshing sound to hear the anchor chain making it's way into the abyss. We are served a delicuous breakfast, "Nathalie" is a great cook, and all appreciate her culinary skills. The group on board are , Germans, Aussies, Brits and Canadians, a good mix of people. There is always laughter to be heard, as people share their stories. Outside and up front, the bow seems like the place to be, catch some rays, and chill. Later we will explore a couple of uninhabited islands, do some snorkeling and have lunch on the beach, then back to the boat for dinner which included freshly caught "Dorado". After dinner its back to the beach for a fire, nice touch to end a great day. First light tomorrow we pull anchor and head to another island for the day and evening. Al Nino

February 9,2017

Seas are still pretty rough, our boat "Wild Card" seems to be taking on the challenge. It is 3 am and I am awakened by a loud thump, Tim has just been tossed on the floor from his lower bunk, along with some of his gear. Looking through my window beside my bunk, I can see the whitecaps form on the swells in the moonlight. Wedging myself in so I don't end up like me "Amigo", it seems we are in for a rough ride. I can see the helm from my bunk, and watch the wheel being controlled by the auto pilot. The first mate is doing his rounds while the captain sleeps. At one point some of the "Galley" items are thrown about, a reminder of just how rough it is. In and out of sleep, dawn is upon us now making the swells appear even larger. Nothing but Ocean in every direction, tomorrow morning we will drop anchor. Al Nino

Feb 8 - setting sail from Cartagena

Last minute running around, packing up and checking out of the "Hotel Stil" is the order of the day.We pool some money together for the hotel staff who treated us very well, during our stay and present them with a "Propina". Then it is off to Grocery store, to pick up some snacks etc. for the trip to "Panama". The boat provides all the food, water, coffee and tea, as well as fresh fruit, but any pop, liquor, or additional snacks are your responsibility. We met our captain at the market just up from the marina. He has already cleared us for entry to the port and to leave "Colombia. Entering the dock area, all passengers belongings are searched by the police, then we are loaded into a smaller boat in groups of five and taken to the anchored sailboat, have a safety orientation, and eat dinner on deck. Up comes the anchor and off we go, cruising out of the harbour the illuminated skyline now behind us we sail into the darkness. Open ocean will be ahead of us for the next 36 hrs untill we enter the "San Blas Islands". The seas are a little rough, and I find it unerving as I slide from side to side in my bunk. The swells and winds are hitting us mostly from behind, and should continue to do so, " Captain Charlie"informs me. All are above deck, laying on bean bags and cushions, enjoying the celestial show above. Slowly everone heads to their respective quarters for the night. Al Nino

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

February 6, 2017–Back to Cartagena

Feb.6/17  
Today we will say our goodbyes to our new friends and staff at "Casa en el Agua". But not before we enjoy the crystal clear waters once again. Everyone ate breakfast together at the big table, lots of laughter and smiling faces, what a great start to the day. Our boat is scheduled to arrive at 11:30 am and will bring more guests to enjoy the surroundings here. We will depart by 12:15 pm which gives most of us time for one more swim, paddle or whatever one chooses to do. The experience here was one I will never forget, and would definitely recommend it. The surroundings beautiful, a totally different world. The staff were great and made sure everyone was well looked after, and having a good time. The "Panamerican Riders" would like to express our sincere thanks to: Jose, Diego, Marcela, Callem,Samuel and Camilo for all your efforts, you guys rock.
It is "Adios" for us, we board our boat  and off to "Cartagena" we go.
Al Nino

February 5, 2017–Casa en el Agua

Feb.5/17
Beautiful sunrise this morning, the ocean calm, ever inviting. First thing I do is walk to the edge and slip beneath the refreshing water, what a way to wake up. All invigorated and ready to take on the busy task of relaxation. That is what the day has in store for us, at least until the others show up. Probably go to the "Islote Santa Cruz" an island 10 minutes from here. It is the most densely populated island in the world, based on its size. It has a population of 1,300 and is the size of a soccer field. The rest of group showed up in a much smaller boat at 1:00pm, slightly soaked from the ocean spray. After lunch it was time to swim, cool down, and relax. Really getting to like that word, easy to do at "Casa en el Agua". Deciding to take the tour of the Island we left at 5:30pm, a short ride later we were welcomed by the friendly inhabitants, and began a walking tour. It was interesting walking through the narrow corridors, watching the children playing and being greeted by the locals. There's a small Hospital and School, and they have a very large bank of Solar Panels which they get the power from. At one end of the island we were shown netted fish tanks, which contained Sharks, Turtles and local fish. Later that evening, back at the hostel, Ed, Tim and myself were looking towards the tiny island in the distance, then suddenly it went dark, just as if someone flicked a light switch. All we could see was the silhouette in the moonlight."Wow"
Al Nino

February 4, 2017 – Casa en el Agua

Feb.4/17
Checked out by 8:am we are off to the "Marina, our boat is scheduled to leave at 9:00am. It is approximately a 2 hour ride via speedboat down the coast and out to "Casa en el Aqua". A Hostel about 10 kilometers off the coast. Built on a small reef, there are only a few separate rooms, a dorm room , and hammocks on the upper floor. The main floor has the dining area, bar, and kitchen. Also chairs, and padded benches to relax.The menu consists of the catch of the day, sign up for lunch and dinner, easy. You can request a special dish if you have specific dietary needs. Snorkels, Kayaks, and Paddleboards can also be rented at a reasonable cost. Swimming, just jump in an enjoy. The water is warm and teaming with fish, pretty easy to relax here. There are no Televisions or Internet, what a refreshing idea, just relax. Our first day here was very enjoyable, meeting people from all over the world and listening to their stories, was most interesting. Everyone eats at one big table, at a designated time, keeping it as simple as possible. The Sun goes down fast and the winds pick up at night, but it is refreshing after a hot day in the sun. Very quiet and easy to sleep, the sky is full of stars, no light interference here. We are looking forward to our "Amigos" arriving  tomorrow,  and see what adventure awaits.
Al Nino

February 3, 2017 - Cartagena

Arrangements have been made through Andy to meet at the Sailboat company office for 10:30 am. Shouldn't be too complicated, ask a few, and pay. Just as planned, quick and painless. An orientation meeting is arranged for the Tuesday evening, prior to our Wednesday departure. Talk about perfect timing, load Tuesday, Sail Wednesday. The bikes will be in "Panama" before us, no waiting, perfecto. Deciding to take in a city tour of "Cartagena",  everyone meets at the hotel lobby, by 1:30 pm, except Trevor. He is out doing the daunting task of acquiring the appropriate papers. Our bus takes us out to the "Beach Area", a "Monastery", located at the highest point of the city and of course the "Castillo San Felipe". A marvel to wander around, as well as the wall that surrounds the old part of the city. What an amazing structure, built to defend the city against pirates, almost 500 years ago. Tomorrow Andy and I head out to "Casa de Aqua" the rest will join us on Sunday, then we will return Monday to "Cartagena" and prep for Tuesdays loading if the bikes.
Al Nino

February 2, 2017 - Cartagena

The shipping office made contact, a 2:00 pm appt.has been scheduled. Things seem to be falling into place well, timing is everything here, shipping the "Motos" around the "Darien Gap" hoping to time it up with the sailboat we need to take a few days later. Off we go, papers in hand to the shipping agent. There are numerous documents to be prepared. Then it is off to the "Notary", where we are photographed and put our right forefinger on an electronic scanner, "Quatro" times. Now we are in the "Colombian" electronic data base. This will be linked to our passports, and put us permanently in the system. Now back to the agents office, more signing, and of course "Tres" copies of our
inked fingerprint. Unfortunately for Trevor he is missing a document and cannot be processed, at this time. He has until tomorrow at noon, then the agent must forward the papers to the container company "Evergreen" we will put our "Motos" in a 20 ft container to "Panama". Tuesday we will load the bikes, the police will check them and our gear, then seal the container. We are all hoping Trevor can get his paper work in time to join us. Again this took about 3 hours to complete the process. Now we must make arrangements for the sailboat that will carry us from "Cartagena" to "Panama" That will have to wait until tomorrow,  we have done enough arrangements for one "rest day."
Al Nino

Friday, 3 February 2017

February 1 - Cartagena

Sleep in, had a nice ring to it. Doing it was easy. So many early starts to the day over te past few months. Packing, unpacking the bikes, we have that down to a science. This has been a true test of endurance for us, sometimes almost breaking you, it has been exhausting. Now we will have more down time to make arrangements, for the bikes to be shipped to "Panama".
Andy, Ed and myself catch a cab to the shipping office, give them dimensions, weight etc. of the bikes. They will contact us via email later. John and Tim are at the "Notary" getting the required documentation for John to continue. Pretty successful day so far. Agreeing to meet later for dinner we all go our separate ways to catch up on personal things.
Al Nino

January 31 - Cartagena

It worked out as planned, arriving into "Cartagena" early afternoon, traffic was chaotic, thought we would miss that part. Not likely. Ed and Tim went the wrong way down a one way street, a simple shortcut, hell we are from out of town. Andy and I tried the same, but when the police cruiser turned on his sirens, we were detoured back to following the rules. Getting to our destination was a challenge as some streets were not open to traffic. Eventually we met with the others, relieved to get off the bikes too. Putting on over 18,000 kilometers in approximately two months, our bikes are probably sick of us as well. John who is taking over for Tim, has just shown up, good to see him, safe and in good spirits, pretty exciting for him. Also heard from Trevor, he will be joining us tomorrow, wow, he must have been riding long days to catch up so soon. Everyone is happy to be off the bikes for awhile, and we will look into shipping arrangements "Minyana".
Al Nino

January 30, 2017


On the way to " Cartagena", we won't  be able to get there today, just too far for our bodies and bikes to go in one shot. Especially with the roads which meander you up and over the mountains. After good days ride, we pull up to a small town just around dark. There is a hotel located behind a fuel stop, perfect. No more riding, too many things to squish on the highway. We are over the halfway mark to "Cartagena". Tomorrow we should arrive reasonably early into the city.
Al Nino

January 29, 2017 – Escobar’s ranch

Jan.29/17
Maintenance and sightseeing complete, "Medellin"  behind us now, today's our ride is a short one, nice change from other days. We will be visiting "Escobars Ranch" out in the hills. There is also a safari you can take to see all of the animals he collected, and a waterpark has also been added. Around 50 kilometers out of "Medellin", Cash has pulled over on the side of the road, waving us on. Another 20 kilometers or so we pull over and decide to wait. A half hour passes, the rest of the group continues to the next fuel stop. I return down the highway to see if I can find him. No luck, nowhere to be found. I return to the group, an hour and a half has passed, we get a text from Cash. He has decided to return to "Medellin" and enroll himself in a language course. See you back in "Canada" were his words. We wish him well, now down to four riders we continue. The rest of the ride to the ranch was amazing, nice jungle, even the road signs of snakes, turtles, and armadillos were a sight. Getting to the ranch a bit later than anticipated, we were limited to a quick ride through some of the property, it was pretty cool, bragging rights anyway. Finding accommodations was a breeze, just a few blocks away a nice hotel with a pool. They gave us a great deal, after Andy told them of our journey. They stare, with a puzzled look, probably thinking, "you are crazy gringos". It is very hot and humid, the pool, was a blessing. It will be an early start tomorrow.
Al Nino

January 27 & 28, 2017

Thought the roads in Ecuador were great. Nothing compares to the roads we are traveling on today. Super twisty high mountain roads, lush dense vegetation, waterfalls, awesome. Columbia is a very beautiful country, my favorite so far. Clean and such a tropical feel, it does however take a long time to accomplish any distance. If you get behind a line of trucks in the mountains it will really slow progress, although passing on the shoulder is permitted, plan it well or off the edge you go. I think we have all learned a new way to drive our "Motos". Easy rule, there aren't any. Pretty simple to comprehend. It did take us over seven hours to put just over 250 Kilometers behind us. A good indication of the roads we travelled today. Exhausting ride,but all arrived safe to Medellin. Here we will also stay another day, as maintenance has to be done, and a rest day is much needed. The plan is to visit the "Assassin's Cradle" the birthplace of  "Pablo Escobar", it is also the area he recruited all of his hit men.
Al Nino

January 26– Buga, Colombia

Jan.26/17  
Leaving "Pasto" and hitting the highway was a breeze. Very little traffic to battle, the weather today is damp, light showers and very humid. It will be good to knock off four to five hundred kilometers today, this will get us pretty close to Medellin which we plan to get to the following day. We do manage to pull off the required amount of k's, and settle in to the town of "Buga". All checked in to the "Hotel Guadalajara" a beautiful classic property. It must have been a bustling hub in years gone by. Beautiful architecture throughout the property and a nice swimming pool. Most refreshing after a long day in the saddle. We wake early to a lovely buffet breakfast, which is included. Say our goodbyes to the ever helpful staff, and here we come Medellin. 
Al Nino

January 25–Colombia

On time we are on the road once again. Stopping for gas along our route, they are limiting our purchase to $3.00 each. When paying the attendant with a $5.00 bill he refuses to give change. He did this to Ed, Andy and Tim. Cash and I refused to purchase gas, and we were not intimidated by the guard with the gun. Are they actually extorting money from us?  Andy told the attendant to look closely at the helmet. Smile your on camera, we are filming you now. Soon the attendant went into the station and presented the appropriate change. Down the road at another fuel stop, we tried again, absolutely no problems, "fill her up".  Here we go, next stop the border. Arriving at about 9:00 am. We were all through and on our way by 1:30 pm, not bad considering it would be worse if you arrived later. You must buy insurance for the bike there, before entering "Columbia".  We are importing our bikes into the country as foreigners and it is a lengthy process. On our way again, we stop  to visit the historic "Santuario" "Nuestra Senora de las Lajas", absolutely amazing, quite the hike down, but worth the effort. Next stop will be at our resting place in the city of "Pasto".
Al Nino

January 24–Ibarra, Ecuador

Today we will ride as far as the city of "Ibarra". It will get us reasonably close to the "Colombian" border. Getting to the border early will be a priority, as to avoid long delays. Checking in to the "Hotel Madrid", a very reasonably priced establishment, basic, no frills, but has secure parking for our "motos". This has always played a key factor when choosing accommodations, as it is easy to have your bike stolen.The group seems a little weary,  tough riding today, and we experienced some cooler temps and rain. Meeting for an early dinner, then shopping for stickers for the bikes. Throughout all of Ecuador we did not find any stickers. 
Someone should get on that bandwagon, it was a painful experience. Retiring early, as we will head for the border at 7:00 am.
Al Nino

January 23–Banos, Ecuador

Our agenda today is pretty light. With an early start we should be at our destination by early afternoon. The ride is glorious, so many twisty's, gets the adrenaline going. The panoramic views are spectacular, terraced  mountains, green pastures, beautiful. There are a lot of rocks on the road, don't be surprised to come around a corner and find a variety of rocks in your path. Also some good sized potholes that they attempt to fill with bricks. Makes for some interesting riding though, just be cautious. Arriving at our destination, the tiny hamlet of "Banos" awaits. It is situated at the base of the volcano "Tungurahua" and surrounded by steep mountains. Lots to do here, hiking, rafting, you can rent  dune buggies also, no dunes though. There is also a natural hot springs from the volcano to soak you aches away, a freshwater waterfall enhances the moment next to the pools. It is illuminated at night, and is worth the visit. Parking our weary butts at the "Gala Hotel" very central, secure parking, reasonable as well. There's  lots of accommodations to choose from here, worth looking around. Many restaurants line the streets, and a good variety can be found to accommodate ones palate. The town is quiet, and shops close early, but I would return here again, as it was an enjoyable experience.
Al Nino

Jan 22 Cuenca, Ecuador

Today is a day to do whatever we want. Visiting the main square of town is fantastic. The "Cathedral" is absolutely beautiful, words can't describe what it is like to stand in such a majestic building. Outside the hustle and bustle of the masses, vendors, musicians, families, what a wonderful way to spend a  rest day. It is  Sunday and most of the shops are closed, kind of nice to see people taking time for themselves. We could learn a thing or two about that. The area of the city we are in, is very clean, and a welcome change to other cities we have visited so far. Deciding to do a little maintenance on the motos, we will adjust our chains, change out the air filters, and re tourque various components. Tonight is a special night as we are out to a very traditional  restaurant where I will indulge in the delicacies and flavors of "Guinea Pig" and the not so brave souls, traditional pork. "Bon Appetite".
Al Nino

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Ride to Machu Picchu from Northern Argentina

JANUARY 19

The "Peruvian Desert " runs along  most of the coast. From "Chile" to "Ecuador" that's a lot of sand and it is very hot and dry. Nice to be riding closer to the Ocean as the temperature has cooled somewhat. Our destination is the city of "Piura", arriving early evening we get a hotel close to the "Plaza de Armas" nice and central. Secure parking minutes away, important as most downtown Hotels don't have on site parking. It will be an early night, as we plan on hitting the road by 8:00am. Destination tomorrow, the seaside town of "Mancora". It will be a day of  rest and relaxation, as we now have put on 15,000 kilometers on our "Piquina Motos" in the past 54 days. Good news, we will meet up with Trevor as well.
Al Nino

To Chimbote

Jan.18/17                                      
Our start time has been delayed today. Andy had a tip from a local , suggested we leave between 10:00 am and noon. The traffic is best at that time, so we will not be caught in the rush. I can't Imagine how it must be early morning, because it was total chaos when we left at the suggested time. We also were pulled over by the "Moto Police" again, as we were traveling down part of the freeway that does not allow "Motos". Go to the station he told us, not likely, "Adios Copper". I guess we did not see the sign, amongst the fear of  traffic survival. Finally we were out of the city and going up the coast, only to be pulled over again, guess who was watching, our newest buddies, the police. When the rest of us pulled up, he just let them go, probably to much hassle, to check all of our credentials. Great highway and scenery on the coast, and after many  kilometers we pulled our weary asses into the city of  "Chimbote". This city was devastated in the 70's with a magnitude 7.9 earthquake. The tragedy left approximately 70,000 dead, with snow pummeling down from the mountains You can see evidence of the rebuild, as one drives through. It will be an early night, lots of riding today in heavy traffic, eating and bed, what a combo. Tomorrow we will pull off another big day,  600 kilometers to the city of "Piura". Good news, Trevor will meet us on the 20th in "Mancora"
Al Nino

Jan.16-17/17


Riding to "Lima" will be an easy day for us, the weather is warm and dry, very little wind and good highway. The motos are performing well , amazing little machines, they have exceeded, our expectations so far. Biggest hurdle to  conquer today, make in to the city in one piece. The amount of vehicles is staggering, and everyone seems to honk their horns constantly, almost as if it is a code. Choosing to stay in "Miraflores" which is an area away from the downtown core. It is quieter, and the central pedestrian walkway is a pleasure to stroll. "El Doral Apart Hotel" is where we stayed, great staff, and secure parking out front. Apart Hotels can save you money, as they do have a mini kitchen, which helps out the budget. Taxi's are very inexpensive,  so traveling to the downtown area is a must. There is a changing of the "Guard"every day at noon, well worth the watch. Our time spent here was enjoyable, and we were lucky enough to witness a parade downtown, with so many amazing costumes, and musicians. "Lima" is very rich in culture, well worth the visit.
Al Nino

January 15

Waking up in a "Desert Oasis" is quite spectacular. With dunes totally surrounding us, it is dry and hot. Water being the giver of life here, it's amazing the amount of  birds, flowers, palms etc.that thrive here. Tim and myself took a walkabout early this morning, and made arrangements for a "Dune Tour" later in the day. Pretty exciting, as we have managed to hire one that seats five plus driver. Agreed time 4:00pm, in the meantime, some hike the dunes, others swim, and of course laundry. Not really sure what to expect, the ride was crazy fun. Up and over the dunes at speeds that made one appreciate the Five Point Harness that kept us secure. The ride was filmed with our video equipment, so it should be worth a watch. We also had the opportunity to snow board down, which we did by sitting on the boards.  Later the driver let us out  just above the "Oasis" some walked into the village from there. Cash and I hiked up the other side of the large dune by our hotel, great photo opps for us, amazing views. Quite the hike as well, hiking in sand is exhausting. An early dinner is the plan, then meet by the pool lounge area to discuss the next days adventure. It will be off to "Lima" for the "Cinco Amigos" menyana.
Al Ninox

January 14, 2017


Everyone seems well rested, a very high mountain village, quiet, no activity to wake us during the night. It is cool and misty as we depart, a few are experiencing headaches, this was an unscheduled stop, and we are out of "Altitude Sickness" medication. In a few hours we will be dropping in altitude as we approach "Ica" symptoms should dissappear.  This road is a motorcyclists dream come true, so many curves and switchbacks, awesome ride, a bit unnerving at times, no guardrails and very steep terrain. The trucks and buses that travel this route tend to make use of both lanes, so biker beware. Anticipate their moves and you will survive, if not, off the road you go, and you will be airborne. "Motos" can't fly. Stopping in "Ica" we fuel up and continue north to the "Lineas Y  Geoglificos De Nasca". There is an observation tower to give you a birds eye view, best to view from an airplane if you can. Andy sent up the drone, but was promptly warned that it was not allowed. Continuing on to "Huacachina" we will stay the night and the next day there. It is a "Desert Oasis" surrounded by massive sand dunes that reach a height of 300 ft. Here you can "Sand Board" your way down if you are brave enough. A very beautiful spot, off the beaten track. We checked into the "El Huacachinero Hotel" nice place, very clean, has a pool, breakfast included as well. It is located at the base of a large  dune in a quiet area of town. Good place to relax and do some exploring.
Al Nino

Jan 13


Down to five riders now, its an early start. We bid farewell to Trevor, we may see him in "Lima", but are having our doubts. It is a long way to catch up to us and he needs to rest his wrist, not to mention the road between "Cusco and "Ica, has about 300 switchbacks. You really have to be on your game. Half way during our ride today we encounter rain, fog, and cold weather. Climbing high over the mountains riding till almost dark, we stop in a small village and check into a hostel.  Frozen and weary, our altitude is 13,700 ft. "Hot Soupa" for everyone, topped off with "Pollo and "Arroz". The hostel is also a general store, so we grab extra water and chocolate. Cash buys Choclate for the owners children, I give them  Canadian Wristbands, they are most thankful. We pose for group pictures, with Mom, Dad, the three kids and the five of us. It is now 8:00 pm, we retire to our tiny rooms, tomorrow we depart at 7:00 am. and continue the journey to "Ica"
Al Nino

John leaves us

Jan.12/17
Emotions are running high this morning, we are eager to make tracks, but saying "Adios" to John is tough on all of us. Meandering our way out of "Cusco" we clear the city and head to open road. Approximately 14 kilometers out we lose sight of Andy and Trevor. Pulling over to wait, there is still no sight of them. I turn around and wait at the fork in the road. The others head back in the direction we just came from. Cash returns to my location and gives me the news. Trevor went down pretty hard, and ran into a bank on the side of the road. Andy and a stranger helped drag his bike back on the road. He limped it to a gas stop a few kilometers away. Looks like he bent his front fork, rim, and handlebars. He may also have cracked his left wrist, pretty swollen.  A young fellow offered to drive him back to "Cusco" to a clinic. Cash road Trevor’s bike very slowly back to a bike shop with Tim. Andy, Ed and I will wait  with Cash's bike and will head back to "Cusco" on his return. Several hours later Cash returns, off we go. Trevor is now at the hospital getting x rays, good news, no break just a fracture. He can't ride his bike. The day is getting late,  we will stay in "Cusco" another night, unfortunately for Trevor, he must remain behind tomorrow, wait for bike repairs and see the Dr. once more.
Al Nino

on to Cusco

Jan. 10,11/17
"Cusco" is our next stop and is a short ride from "Ollantaytambo". We bid farewell to our hosts and hit the road early. The plan is to stay for two days, John will be leaving and heading home to "Kelowna". Trevor has arrived from "Ecuador, and will be taking over John's moto. There is paperwork to be dealt with  and it has to be done through a "Notary". This also is a good time to rest, I can catch up on the "Blog" and Andy  editing "Video Footage". There are times when we have no service, or it can just be hit and miss, so we take full advantage while we stay at the "Royal Inca Hotel". Nice place to stay, reasonably priced, and they serve a wonderful breakfast, with fresh cooked omelets of your choice, all included. The decor is beautiful as well. Today there was a demonstration in the plaza, complete with "Riot Police". We watched it for a time from our balcony, it remained peaceful and lasted a couple of hours. Tim went out and picked up air filters  as well as more synthetic oil. With the dirt roads we have been on so far, it is time to change them out. Should improve performance. Dropping in altitude will also play a big role,"Cusco" is 12,000 ft, and we will be continuously descending from this point. Being John's final night with the group, it is out for a farewell dinner, we are entertained by a local group of musicians during dinner, fantastic. Tomorrow will be an emotional day for us, as we bid farewell to our new brother, we will all miss him.
Al Nino

Thursday, 12 January 2017

From the bottom of Argentina heading north

Machu Picchu

Jan 9 /17
Going to be a long day today, our train leaves at 5:40 am and returns at 21:10 pm it is an hour and a half ride each way. Taking a bus up the mountain to the entrance, you wind your way up, switchback after switchback. Very steep terrain, beautiful scenery, and the buses are very comfortable. You need to purchase a pass to enter, we did this earlier and had them printed out at the hotel in "La Paz". Show your pass and passport and your in. A short walk from the entrance and suddenly, wow "Machu Picchu" appears. I was absolutely speechless, an absolute marvel. The size of the ruins is absolutely amazing. Spending most of the day here was easy. I would refer to it as, a mind blowing experience. Humbling as well, words can't do it justice, you have to see it to believe it. Be prepared to do a lot of climbing if you visit, good footwear and water is a must, as well as a fully charged camera.
There is a "Cafe" and"Banos" at the entrance to the park, and you can come and go with your pass. The town below offers a great variety of restaurants, as well as many souvenir and gift kiosks. I would definitely recommend this adventure to anyone. We met for dinner, did some shopping and boarded our train. Soon everyone was sleeping, it was an exhausting day, and a most memorable one.
Al Nino

riding to Ollantaytambo

Jan.8/17
The weather looks good today, it's cool, but no rain. Everyone is ready prior to our agreed departure time. Good thing, as we will be putting on about 400 kilometers today. The plan is to get to "Ollantaytambo" relatively early, as we have to get to the train station and get our pre purchased boarding passes printed. About an hours ride from our destination the "GPS" puts us on a similar version of "Death Road", pretty treacherous, and of course it has to start raining. The  dips in the road are starting to fill with water, and the "Red Clay" is as slippery as ice. Soon we are relieved as the road once again turns to pavement. It is almost dark, but we arrive at our destination, manipulate the slippery cobblestone streets to the "Hospedaje" park the motos and take a cab to the train station. It is absolutely pouring rain outside. Hungry, we meet for dinner, then off to bed, as we have to be up at 4:30 am to catch the early train.
Al Nino

Entering Peru

Jan.7/17
Today we will say farewell to "Bolivia" and head into "Peru". Getting out of the city is a daunting task. Some roads are closed off due to the "Dakar" celebrations. We are fortunate enough to get a "Police" escort to the outskirts of town, nice "Moto Cops", think they felt sorry for us. On the way Andy and I visit the ruins of "Tiahuanaco" to be here was an awesome experience, ever since I learned about it from the show "Ancient Aliens" it has been on my list of things to do. The rest of the group continued, and we will meet them in "Peru". When we cross into "Peru" we run into Tim. Surprised as we thought they were way ahead of us. Bad news, while having lunch on the "Peruvian" side of the border, someone stole Tim's helmet off his bike, complete with his "Sena" helmet cam attached. He had to buy a new helmet to continue. Meeting up with the others we continue our ride to the city of"Juliaca". Cold and tired we clean up, and go for pizza, except for John he loves his "Pollo". Tomorrow we will ride to the village of "Ollantaytambo", and stay two nights in the "Hospedaje Acclla Wasi" This will be our jumping point for "Machu Picchu"
Al Nino

La Paz, Bolivia

Jan.5,6/17
Riding to "La Paz" our motos are not performing well. Altitude playing a big factor, also low octane gas, that is all we can buy. Again we hit a huge rainstorm, lightning fills the sky, visibility poor, riding conditions becoming terrible. Closing in on "La Paz" roads are flooding, most intersections under water. At one intersection water covers a set of train tracks, unfortunately for John he goes down. Immediately drivers stop and help him get his bike upright, his rear wheel is still lodged in the track they struggle to get it free. Lucky for John he only has minor damage to the bike and body. Ending up at the "Hotel Gloria" the bikes are put in a secure area, this will give us enough space to do maintenance. Deciding to stay an extra day, we all do some sight seeing, even take a tram up and over this city of approximately 3 million. Andy, Tim and myself take the mountain pass up and over to "Death Road" Climbing to an altitude of 15,300 ft. then decend to10,600 ft., 10 kilometers in, we are turned around, we watch a landslide cover the entire road. It will take hours to clear. Back to "LaPaz we go, we need fuel, one station won't sell it to us. Another does, but you need your passport to make your purchase. An early start tomorrow is the plan, so to bed early it is. Loud music fills the square below us, it's 4:00 am. They are doing sound checks to welcome the "Dakar" riders who will be arriving later today. So much for sleeping any longer.
Al Nino

Salt Flats and on

Jan.4/17
The storm is over, another beautiful day beckons us to the "Salt Flats". Our set rendezvous time 9:00 am. Andy has a head start on the flats, he is hoping to pull off some drone footage, before the masses arrive. Riding the motos on the flats is an experience. You can ride for ever it seems, one rule to remember, come out the way you go in. If not, you could get lost in the vast expanse of salt. After exploring for a time, we meet at the entrance to the flats and continue our journey. We will be heading into the city of "Oruro" today, not a long ride.
This is fine with the group, as yesterday's ride was a true test of motorcycle skills, as well as physical endurance. Ed went down several times in the mud and sand. Cash went down in a huge water hole, maybe he was hot and needed to cool down. Minor damage to the bikes and riders, lucky for them. We arrive in "Oruro" late in the afternoon, we have just battled through a severe rainstorm. Cold and weary, we check into a hotel, not fancy but shelter from the elements. There is no elevator, and bringing the gear up three floors is very demanding. It is the altitude, I find myself completely out of breath by the second floor, as if someone was sitting on my chest, even my fingertips are tingling, a true sign of lack of oxygen. Showered and warm, we meet for a quick bite, by 8:30 pm it's lights out. Destination tomorrow "La Paz"
Al Nino

Friday, 6 January 2017

On to Uyuni

Jan.3/17
Today we decided to explore the town before our checkout. Very interesting place, the markets were full of people, street vendors in full swing, tiny three wheeled taxis ripping through the streets. Soon we are all packed up and ready to roll once more. "Uyuni" is where we are heading to, then onwards to the "Bolivian
Salt Flats". As we leave "Tapiza" the road to "Uyuni" now becomes gravel and much more. The road is totally under construction, not so bad I guess, except it is 208 kilometers of construction. The scenery on the other hand is absolutely amazing, just don't  take your eyes off the road too much, or you just might be over a cliff. Between huge water holes that cover the entire road, boulders, switchbacks and sand, it looks like were in for a very interesting day of riding. We climb high today as well, and we peaked at around 12,700 ft. Arriving in "Uyuni later than planned due to road conditions, we fuel up, and make the decision of whether to carry on. A storm is brewing and lightning fills the sky. Tim, Ed, and Cash decide to stay, Andy, John and myself decide to continue.  Upon our arrival at the "Salt Flats" it is now dark, and rain starts to pound down on us. We concede that the "Salt Flats" will have to wait till tomorrow. Andy stays in a hotel near the flats. John and I head back to "Uyuni" and bunk down at the "Hostel La Magia de Uyuni". Tomorrow morning we will all meet at the"Salt Flats" and do some exploring
Al Nino

Bolivia, here we come

Jan.2/17
Today we break camp early, it rained hard in the night, we want to dry our tents before packing them away.
We will be entering Bolivia today, it's crucial to get there early to avoid delays. Climbing high through the mountains, the scenery pristine, the air crisp, what a ride. At the border crossing we are lucky, not to many people ahead of us. Still the process is slow, so patience is the key. It still took over two hours for the six of us to be processed. Cash used his American Passport which resulted in him paying $160.00 US. dollars to enter. He had to, as all his border crossing stamps were in it. Once in Bolivia a "Cambio de Casio"  is first on the agenda. We exchange any left over Argentinian money, and purchase Bolivian. Now on to our next goal, the town of "Tapiza". The ride from the border to Tapiza is awesome, twisty road, great
scenery, mountains of red, wonderful. We arrive at the "Hotel Mitru", reasonably priced, clean, pool, and a breakfast that's included in the price. Staying here again, would be an easy choice. Meeting another group of crazy riders from Brazil, we all decided to join one another for dinner. Interesting to say the least, lots of great stories and pictures to share. They had six riders to start, but two left due to injuries. Great times were had by all. Best of luck to team "Magnifica Magma" on the rest of their journey. After dinner and back at the hotel, our group gathered in the lobby to book our "Machu Pichu" excursion.
Al Nino

Heading up into the Andes

Jan.1/17
The sun is shining, birds are singing, blue skies. What a great way to start the first day of the year. We do not have to travel too far today, around 200 kilometers. Camping in the little town of "Tilcara" which is around 8,300 ft. Breaking camp in "Salta" is a leisurely process, another good start to 2017, nice and easy. The city is calm, quite different from last nights Fireworks that went on for hours throughout the city. The bangs, booms and bursts, however did stop around 3:00am.
They sure know how to bring in a "New Year. On the road at 10:30 am, we fill up with fuel, get more bottled water and make tracks. Staying hydrated is very important at higher altitudes, especially on two wheels. The team has also started taking our "Altitude Sickness" pills and will for the next 8 to 10 days. Looking for a "Pharmacia" is also a priority, Tim was stung by an insect yesterday, his right foot and ankle are swollen and blistering from the reaction from the poison. We find an open "Pharmacia" and get the prescribed treatment. Within a few hours we our in camp at "Tilcara". Tim's foot elevated and iced, the treatment seems to be working. Great news, as we were all quite worried. This small town is built on the side of a mountain. "Adobe Brick" buildings line the cobblestone and gravel streets. Smiling shopkeepers welcome us, the scenery magnificent, as if it were painted. After a viewing of the town, and surrounding area for photos, it's dinner and off to bed.
Al Nino

On to Salta

Dec.31/16
"Salta" here we come, beat the heat , let's go. New Years  in the municipal campground. Oh yeah, we all imagine how nice it will be sitting next to the pool, which just happens to be on the top ten list of the largest pools in the world. The pool takes approximately 10 days to fill, mind boggling, and has the same square footage as two "Football Fields. We get to "Salta" early, pulled off 300 kilometers pretty fast, nice ride. Andy , Tim, and John are already at the campground. Cash, Ed and myself are on the way. Following the GPS through town we are almost there, then we make a big mistake. We turn left onto a one way but the light is "Rojo" that is what the two traffic cops were yelling at us as they demanded we pull over. We pleaded our case, the policeman said in spanish at warp speed, Rojo is Rojo, International law. Ok we went through the red light but  120.00 US dollars is a little steep for a fine. We pleaded ignorance, said we do it in Canada which is actually legal, but not in Argentina apperantly. He is not budging, his younger partner checks our credentials as he walks Cash back to the scene of the crime. Upon their return , we sincerely apologize, we do not have "Mucho Denero" we explain, that is why we camp. After about 45 minutes they agree to let us go. We really appreciated our big break, we shake hands and give them a "Panamerican Rider" card. Let's get out of here asap. Soon we meet up at the campground with the others.
   Upon our arrival at the campground, the pool is still, being filled, so we will not be swimming today, maybe if we stayed another week,  it might be full enough. Not happening. That is ok, we are all together off the road, camping, and it is "New Years Eve". We all miss our families, but we have become our own little family. The "PanamericanRider" family. A gourmet camp meal is on the agenda for the evening, down some wobbly pops, sit back and reminisce about the adventure so far. Take
in the fireworks at midnight, call our families and off to bed.          "FELIZE  ANO  NUEVO"
Al Nino

A long days ride

Dec.30/16
It is going to be a very hot day of riding. Just packing up our gear puts us all into sweat mode. Hopefully we will put the majority of kilometers on early in the day, this will allow for more frequent stops later, too cool down and replenish our bodies with liquids. A couple of the riders wear camel packs, they hold 2 litres of water and continually hydrate while riding, great piece of gear.
Our plan is coming together well, by mid day we are well over half way to our destination of "San Miguel de Tucuman". The temperature is hot, 37 degrees  Celsius. With our riding gear on, it feels like 45 degrees Celsius. We will all lose weight today, maybe not a bad thing, might get a little more speed from our "Poquito Motos".
We are closing in on the city, small scooters are riding on the shoulders of the highway, lots of them, most have two riders, no helmets, all wearing shorts, tank tops, absolutely no safety gear. That is what they do, some even ride three up, which includes the baby tightly tucked in between Mom and Dad. It is Friday night and they are going out on the town. Upon our arrival  three "Amigos" get a hotel the other three "Hombres" opt for camping. The next day we will meet in the city of "Salta" and start getting used to the higher altitudes we will be encountering over the next several days.
Al Nino

After the storm

Dec.29/16
With the sun shining, off we go, we manipulate our way through the streets, dodging the huge pools of water, left behind from last nights storm. As we leave town, ditches are filled to the brim with brown silty water. The fields teaming with the growth of what they have to offer. Sunflowers, Corn, absolutely beautiful. There are thousands of acres planted here. Agriculture is huge, I have never witnessed so many pieces of farm equipment, massive in size, so diverse in the jobs they perform. Cattle also dot the fields for 100's of kilometers as well. Nothing like a good Argentinian steak. Just ask my "Carnivore Amigos". Today our sights are set on the city of  "Cordoba. It is very hot, and we need to make extra stops to hydrate ourselves. At one stop, Andy's bike blows over in wind into Cash's bike which falls into a parked car. Running through the parking lot, Andy, Tim and myself recover the bikes to their previous positions. Only a little bit of damage, lucky for them, could have been alot worse, especially to the car.
Back on the road we are nearing our destination, upon arrival we stop again to hydrate our parched souls, and look for a campsite. We decide to go a little further to the town of "Jesus Mary". En Epoca de Festival Camping Puerto Caroya, is where we lay our heads for the night. Off the road early, we can set up and continue the drying process of gear and belongings. Quiet campground, nice host as well.
Al Nino

On the road again

Dec.28/16
What a punctual group we are, that is what our Concierge told us. How do you do it he asked. Practice I responded. He just laughed and said he really admired it. Not so much here in my country was his response.The hotel has a great front desk staff , they went above and beyond for us. Thanks to them, our stay was so much more enjoyable. We all met outside for some photos, said our goodbyes, and prepared ourselves for the onslaught of traffic. Here we go again, my white knuckle friends. Getting out of Buenos Aires is not as easy as one may think, but what the hell, oh yeah welcome to traffic hell.
After about an hour we were through the traffic and highway bound. Our goal is to make it to Santa Fe, approximately 500 kilometers from Buenos Aires. On our way Andy ran out of fuel about 10 kilometers from our next fuel stop. Fortunatley I carry a siphon tube with me. The group each offered up some gas from their tanks, which was transfered to an empty water bottle. Andy was up and running again, off we go. There was no camping in "Santa Fe", so we opted for the municipal campground in the town of "Santo Torme". Nice spot next to a river. Tonight was a true test of our gear, we experienced  severe winds, rain, lightning and thunder. Pretty noisy, so most of us had very little sleep. We left later than usual the next morning, this gave our tiny homes a chance to dry out before packing them away.
Al Nino

Dec 27, last day in Buenos Aires

The boys are ready to roll, we have had enough downtime. We can only sit idle for so long, even though we have enjoyed our rest period and Christmas, time to prepare to hit the road. No plans for today, do your own thing, get supplies, be ready in manyana we vamos at 9 am. We do end up meeting for dinner around 8:00 pm. Eat well  "Amigos"soon nothing but camp food.
Al Nino

Patagonia

Death Road - or at least a small part of it