Monday, 27 February 2017
Sunday, 26 February 2017
Saturday, 25 February 2017
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
Monday, 20 February 2017
Thursday, 16 February 2017
Wednesday, 8 February 2017
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.
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"
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.
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.
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."
Friday, 3 February 2017
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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".
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.
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.
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".