Day 32 [Thr 12/14/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Portobelo Hostel in Portobelo, Colon Provice, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 11,155
Ending Odometer: x
Distance Traveled Today: x miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: x miles [x - 4,603]

Hotel Sister Moon

Today, I wake up and there's only me and this one girl in the hostel. She's leaving for the San Blas islands today. I mean, I suppose I could have done that also...just hop a boat to the San Blas. But I do have some tasks I want to get done before I leave for Colombia. Yesterday I bought a new camera in Colon. Now, I want to return to Colon (pronounced Cologne), and mail some things back to myself...a camera, all of my documents from Central America, some left-over currency from Central America. Like...I'm certainly not going to need these documents or currency from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica once I get to Colombia. Also, my one Canon EOS 50D is solidly broken.

Anything I can get rid of, I need to. All of the coins I've saved along the way, I sort of hide them from myself. I stick them down into the crevices of my CC Filson bag. Now, I pull everything out into the open. Everything is exposed and evaluated. Does it need to continue with me to South America? If I can live without it, then it goes into the Canon EOS 80D box to be FedEx'd back to Colorado.

The other things I'd like to do is to buy a new shirt, and some Chaco sandals if I can find them.

So I roll out of town about 12:00 noon, and when I get about 1/2 there, I realize that I don't have my passport. So I turn around and go back to the Portobelo Hostel and get my passport.

I don't really need to be riding around down here without it. I'm not clear if I'll need it or not, but I have a feeling I might.

Now I leave again for Colon. This time, I make it all the way there. I head straight for the FedEx center in the Zona Libre. They're open, and pretty helpful. She speaks a little English. They can't get their credit card to process the transaction. So I say "No hay problemo..." I'll pay in cash. Only I don't have enough cash on me. Now, she drives to the nearest ATM (Cajero Automatica), and now the ATM gives me enough cash to pay to FedEx the box back to the USA.

So she goes on her lunch break, and I go back and finish filling out the myriad of forms in order to FedEx a package back to the USA. Signing all of these absurd waivers. They even fingerprint me, if you can believe it.

So...OK. Good enough. Mission accomplished. I got the package shipped out. Now, I go and look for a shirt. I find a store, and the girl sells me a T-shirt that should cost about $5.00 in the USA for $30.00. Well, OK. Good enough. At least I have a clean shirt to wear now.

Now, I should mention here, that the Zona Libre in Panama is in complete gridlock because they got completely flooded this week. So, traffic is a nightmare in the Zona Libre grid.

I'm starting to learn the difference between the Zona Libre and the France Field.

So now, I see a store that sells footwear, so I stop in. But they say that, not only do they not sell Chacos, but the only place that does sell Chacos is in Panama City in the Albrook Mall in Panama City.

OK. Well, fair enough. But I've still gotten a lot done. Like...all of this is very hard when you're in a country where you can barely speak the language. And the traffic is all gridlocked by 130" of a rain a year.

But eventually, I head back to the town of Portobelo. As I'm leaving Colon, I stop to gas up at the Terpel gas station. She says my card won't work. But you're never really sure why. Was it declined? Does the machine not read it? It's always so hard to know. I need to put some more cash in my wallet. I need to have at least $500 in my wallet at all times, to prevent what happened today.

As I leave, the bottom falls out of the clouds and it starts to rain. I just keep going and quickly drive out of it.

When I get back into Portobelo, I stop for some grilled meat on a stick from the guy at the bottom of the hill where I stay. Then I walk into the Chino's supermarket. Probably this is one of the parts I like best....walking in and just buying scads of different candies and chocolates and cookies. And CocaCola sin calorias.

Now back outside to the man selling grilled meat on a stick. OK. Now I get it. He lives here. That's his house just there. And his wife. And he has one kid.

Everyone else has left the hostel. I'm thinking about going into Panama City tomorrow or maybe finding a hostel on the beach. But, with no one here, it's kind of slow, it seems.

Finally, today, Waze bothered me enough that I went online and searched for how to fix it. Now, the 3d nightmare is gone, and North is locked "up". So, Waze actually works like a half-decent navigation tool at this point.

Also, when one of my buddies came through here, we copied a file onto my Garmin Montana 600 into the Garmin folder, and now, I have the road maps for Central and South America. Woohoo!

So, my map situation is better. But now, I'm noticing that, for some reason, I'm having a hard time charging my iphone 6S Plus. Now, I have 2 different cables, and I see this issue with both of them. I'm not clear if the problem is the cable, or the phone, or the laptop...I'm not really able to diagnose it at this point. But I plugged in the iPhone to my wall charger, straight into the phone. And it seems to be charging for now. Fingers crossed.


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Day 31 [Wed 12/13/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama

Starting Odometer: 11,037
Ending Odometer: 11,155
Distance Traveled Today: 118 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,552 miles [11,155 - 4,603]

In the morning, I get up, prepared to ride to Colon.

I want to go to the Panafoto camera store in Colon and buy a new Canon EOS 80D. But of course, it's raining, as always.
So I just sort of lie in bed, wishing that the rain would go away. And presently, it does fade away.

I decide that I have to try to make a concerted effort to get to Colon today. Now, this is tricky because of the weather,
but also because I'm low on fuel. And there are no gas stations to be found around here. Not in Colon. Not in Porto Lindo. Nowhere between here and Colon, to the best of my knowledge.

So I tell Marco Polo that I'm rolling out, but I'm leaving all of my gear at the Hostel Portobelo, to return later today. Mind you, it's only 30 miles to Colon. About a 1 hour drive, according to Waze.

Like...all of this is very hard to figure out. Should I take everything with me, or not? What if I get to Colon, and then it starts to pour? If I had all of my gear, then I could just stay in Colon? It's so hard to guess the right answers to this nightmare. But finally, I just decide to leave everything I have at the hostel. Take some cash, my passport, my wallet, riding gear, Garmin, and iPhone. That's all I'm taking.

And I set off for Colon.

It feels great to be on the bike again. I wish that I'd never been separated from the bike by the rains. It feels strange. LIke getting back together with an old girlfriend. And you go to say you're sorry and she just hushes you. THat's how this feels. So great to be riding again.

There are lots of clouds, but somehow, over the coast, it is clear, and as I follow the coast, I remember some of the beaches and some of the rivers from when I rode in.

I make it about 20 miles before it starts to rain on me. Ahead, the skies loom dark and threatening. I don't feel like getting drowned. I stop in a little town and ask the policia there what it's like in Colon. He marks that it's about knee-deep witih rain and flooding in Colon. So I turn back for the hostel.

Now, I'm getting low on gas and, you'd think that a town Portobelo would have a gas station, but it does not. There's no gas anywhere that I pass either. So when I do roll back into town, I start asking people where to get gas because, seriously people...there are cars here...so were are y'all gassing up at? Has to be gas around here somewhere.

I ask a man at the Chinos' grocery store, and he tells me that there's a purple house on the way out of town that sells gas.

"Con firmar?" I clarify....like...is there a sign?"

"No."

Of course. So, there's a purple house, somewhere between 1 and 3 minutes outside of town that sells gas, but doesn't have a sign.

I decide to go to the taxis. Always there are taxis here in town, but where they take people and where the money comes from is anyone's guess.

So I go to the taxi stand.

"Necessito gasolina para motorcycleta. Donde gasolina?"

Again, the purple house on the edge of town. I ask him to lead me there in the taxi. For a dollar, it is done.

Now, I roll up to the purple house behind the taxi. A man comes out and asks how much gas I want. It's $5.00 a gallon.

"Uno gallones, por favor," and he pours a gallon of gas into my gas tank through a funnel, spilling some on me as part of the process. He could learn from the gas station attendants that I saw on the way down here. Most gas stations technically don't allow you to pump your own gas, so the gas station attendants pump your gas and when they're finishing the pour, they're like a fine somelier in a San Francisco restaurant, turning the gas pump handle ever so delicately to avoid spilling gas on the new motorcycleta. But not this guy. He spills some on my hand, at which point I just remove myself from the entire process.

I pay him his $5.00, and now I have a gallon of gas. Plus, I know where to buy gas now. So, I've solved that problem.

I roll out to the Restaurante El Castillo on the edge of town. I like the place because it has dramatic views of the Carribbean and the bay of Portobelo. And there's a sunken ship there also, which is kind of cool.

So I eat lunch there. I ask for Carne Asado, which is literally grilled steak. I want carne asado tacos, but they really don't server that down here. What's very common in Mexico, is very uncommon down here.

After I eat, I head back into town. It's not raining. I have gas now. At some point, I decide to try to make another run for Colon. This time, when I get about the same place I turned around last time, I see that there is a gas station. Lord. Like...how bad off do you have to be that you're excited to see a gas station?

I'm not sure what the deal is though, as there's no one here to pump my gas, and I've never seen this before in Latin America. Never.

But I ask this guy that has a taxi there, and he points to a woman cowering behind about 1" of plexiglass across the parking lot. And I walk over.

"Necessicitas quatro liters, por favor," and she asks if I want regular or premium, and I want premium. But, at this gas station, the colors are reversed from Pemex in Mexico. Verde is Premium and Rojo is Regular, which is a little confusing. But it is what it is.

Somehow, my tank is now completely full. Oh well. I've got a week to burn it off before we load it onto the boat.

So now I follow my Waze app and it takes me down into an area near the Zona Libre in Colon...a warehouse district. And I see a sign that says Canon, so I turn in and tell them I'm looking for Panafoto. But they send me away and say this isn't the right place, so I roll around for a while, and everyone keeps sending me back to the same yellow building I started at.

Finally, I go back and say, "This is, in fact, Panafoto," which they now (finally) admit is true. But they want me to go to the Panafoto store down in the Zona Libre. So, one of the workers there hops on his bike, and leads me down into the gridlocked chaos that is the Zona Libre. At the time, I wasn't clear what was going on. Now, I know what caused all of the madness....yesterday, Colon was deluged with about 12" of rain, and many of the roads were flooded as a result. So, the gridlock was caused because about 1/2 of the streets were still closed today due to massive flooding.

Colon gets, on average, 130" of rain a year.

So we're weaving through the gridlock and he takes me to a store, and it's a Panafoto, and I give him a thumbs up and he rolls off, returning back to the warehouse he works at. But, after they let me into the store, I see that all they have is crap. Just junkie little Canon cameras for people that are broke. I'm looking for the Canon EOS 80D, which is a little more expensive than anything they carry in this store. So, I ask them where to go, and they send me back to the warehouse I came from. So, I go back to the warehouse, and now I tell them....there's another store, but I don't know where it is.

The woman comes out and tells me that the guy that led me to the wrong store is working, and helped me out of the goodness of his heart, and I didn't even tip him. So now, I hand him a $5.00 and I'm like..."Vamos, amigo."

So now, we go back down into the Zona Libre, but this time, we go past the store we went to last time, and then sort of end up right outside of the Zona Libre, at a different Panafoto. Now, he's on board and we both go into the store and, I can't believe it, but they actually have a Canon EOS 80D, and I hand her 12 dripping wet $100 bills. Now that I have the new camera, and also a 64 Gig MicroSD memory card, I think that I am good to go.

I give my helper another $5.00 for helping me to find the store, and now I pack up the camera and wrap it up in plastic bags twice over so it won't get ruined if I get wet on the way home to my little hostel in Portabelo.

On the way back, I never do get rained on and, there are some other things I needed from the Zona Libre, but I'm thinking now that tomorrow, I'll go back again. I need to mail some things back to Colorado, and now I have a box to mail back my broken camera, and some other items as well.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 13, 2017 at 9:58 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Authorized Canon Camera Retailers in Panama City, Panama

Estaré en la ciudad de Panamá, Panamá el miércoles, 13 de diciembre de 2017.
¿Tiene la Canon EOS 80D a la venta? Si es así, ¿cuánto cuesta?

Gracias,
Rob Kiser

Update: This company's website says they have the camera in stock in Panama City, Panama.

Continue reading "Authorized Canon Camera Retailers in Panama City, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 3:37 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Canon Cameras in Panama City

Post on canon cameras for sale in panama city.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 2:39 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 30 [Tue 12/12/17] - Portobelo, Panama - The Paradox of Choice

Day 30 [Tue 12/12/17] - Portobelo, Panama

In the morning, I find myself in a $10 a night hostel Portobelo, Panama. There's lots of things I could do, but it's hard to know what to do, really. This is what's commonly referred to as the Paradox of Choice. It's easier to know what to do if you have a job and a mortgage and people at home that depend on you. It's markedly less obvious what to do if you get on a motorcycle and leave the country on a journey to nowhere.

Juan is a guy that helps out here at the Hostel Portobelo. He fled his native country of Venezuela, and ended up here somehow.

Juan is nice because he's fluent in both English and Spanish, and he helps me with my Spanish, but in a nice, respectful way. He's not condescending about it. Or bitter. Or angry. Or being a jackass like many people are, he just helps me out, and is polite about it.

When I said, "Que es mas mejor?" one of my standard go-to lines, he tells me that it's just "Que es mejor?" The "mas" is apparently redundant? Who knew. So, it's great to be down here, working on my Spanish, around people that are interested in helping me to improve.

Juan is very nice, and I feel bad that he can't go back to his home, possibly forever.

It's not Juna's hostel. Only he helps out here, but he handles the coffee and offers to make

In the morning, he makes me coffe and a specialty breakfast, common in his home country. While he's preparing my breakfast, one of the guys from France is going to go take photos in the jungle. So, I follow him up into the jungle above the hillside shanty we're staying in.

I'm wearing a pair of flip-flops that were either given or loaned to me by Juan. (I'm not clear on the exact status of them.) But they're pretty much a worn pair of 3rd world fliplfops that fit me pretty well.

We climb up into the jungle above the shanty-town we're staying in - Portobelo. I take a few photos, but all of my camera gear is just seriously fucked up. It wasn't really designed for this sort of abuse....riding in the rain for days at a time in some third world jungle is not the abuse that a Canon EOS 50D was designed to take. This is not a professional-grade camera. It's a consumer-grade camera. And I've broken plenty of cameras, don't get me wrong. That's not the problem. I no regrets over this issue....my only regret is that I only have 1 functioning camera at this point. So, I have to keep switching lenses in the jungle which is just maddening.

Finally, I turn back and start walking back down the hill, at which point I realize that I've climbed a nearly suicidal path through the jungle and am now descending in muddy, wet, slippery flip-flops.

As I'm descending down the wet muddy rain forsest jungle trail in borrowed flipflops, they're setting off bombs in the village below. Presumably this is due to the upcoming holidays? I dunno for certain. But I'm a little bit more in tune now with my surroundings, or I try to be anyway. So, they're setting off these bombs all day long, and I don't like this after going through Honduras. Honduras has forever changed me, I'm afraid. Now, when I see a line of 18 wheelers stopped, I go into this unbelievable panic. I think that I'm about to die when I see vehicles stopped on the shoulder. And when bombs are going off.

How I made it down alive without falling I will never know.

But finally, I do make it down. Juan is making me another breakfast. So I walk down the street to the store. Walking to the store, I pass a dog that's chained to the front a little 3-world shanty with a rusted chain around its neck.

This is one of the hardest parts of passing through these little 3rd world towns. The stray animals wandering the streets, and the way they treat them, is hard to come to grips with. In the U.S., you seldom see stray dogs, and you'll never see man keeping a dog with 2 broken legs.

At the bottom of the hill, I buy a quart of OJ for a dollar.

I finally figured out why I like the OJ down here so much better than in the U.S. It's because they're adding sugar to it. Lots of sure. Way more than in the USA, so it's sweeter. That's why I love Jumex. Duh.

I return and eat my breakfast at the hostel. I can't finish it all, so Juan gives the remains to the stray cat that hangs out at the hotel.

In the hostel, one of the girls from France pulls out a guitar and starts playing and singing and, this is the part that you miss if you're not staying in hostels. And, don't get me wrong, I'm not really advocating hostels. There's so much that's wrong with them that there's no time to go into it, but it does sort of force you into being social, for good or for ill.

Now, one of the guys from Argentina comes down and says my cameras are upstairs and it's very humid and he's concerned about them. So I go up and bring my cameras downstairs. Only one of them works anyway. I need to go into Panama City and buy a new camera. Maybe that's what I'll do tomorrow.

Marco tells me that his friend will be here soon with the boat, and he'll ask if they can take my motorcycle on their sailboat. Like...how crazy is that? To ask a guy if he's got room on his sailboat for a 500 pound motorcycle? Yeah...sure...we'll just stick it over here in this drawer with the meat cleavers and the q-tips.

And now, I'm not really sure what to do. That's the Paradox of choice. Should I go back to Panama City and buy a new camera? Should I go to Puerto Lindo and look for a boat? Should I go to Colon and tour the locks of the canal? This is the Paradox of Choice. The more choices we have...the more freedom we have....the harder it is to make a decision. analysis paralysis.


Vultures Over the Purple Cathedral

At some point, the rain lets up somewhat. Buzzards circle over the purple cathedral that anchors the town.

I decide it would be a good idea to walk one block to see what the restaurant on the corner serves for dinner. The restaurant I am in is called the Parrillada Latino (I think).

I found out today that it's illegal to walk down the street without a shirt on in Panama. And illegal to ride a motorcycle without a shirt on. Who knew?

As soon as I order my meal, the skies open up. Even though I'm under a protective awning, i move indoors.

Fish are swimmng in the streets. It's raining like a cow pissing on a flat rock.

Tomorrow, I have to try to get out of this place. I have to put snorkel in my mouth, get on the bike, and ride into Panama City and buy a Canon Digital Rebel. And a t-shirt.

Marco Polo comes in to my room and tells me that the boat that was supposed to sail today didn't go because the seas were too rough. I tell him that I'm taking the San Blas Cat to Colombia on Monday, and here is my deposit. Like...I'm not going to fuck this up twice.


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 8:42 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Honduras/Panama Video

I created a short video of my travels in Panama and Honduras. You can download it here.

https://www.expirebox.com/download/5c512adf5bbfab70fb7b5e7cd7991793.html

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 6:10 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 29 [Mon 12/11/17] - Portobelo, Panama to Puerto Lindo, Panama

This morning, I get up and my friends are riding to Puerto Lindo, to catch a boat from there. I should have gone with them, but I am not a smart man. I thought I had a reservation with San Blas Cat, but I was mistaken.

So we roll out of town, heading roughly east. They're supposed to be at Puerto Lindo at 8:00 a.m. And the roads are about half wet, because nothing ever dries out down here. Never. So we're pushing through these curving jungled roads, ever closer to Puerto Lindo. After about 12 km and 15 minutes, we roll into town. There's a dirt road down to the beach. We double back and ride down there.

The seas are rough this morning, and we don't see the boat they're expecting. But a man comes walking down the beach, and apologizes that, because of the waves, he'll have to load at a different location in Puerto Lindo.

I'm like....OK....Y'all got this...and I turn back for Portobelo. I know the boat that I will sail on. I know the dock I need to be at. I know what time he loads. He loads at 10:00 a.m.

So, I go down to the dock with all of my gear.

I go down to the dock, and there's this dropout gringo there from....I don't know where...it doesn't really matter....somewhere in the USA and that country squeeze him out like a ball of puss and now he's down here, bothering me.

"If you were in Uvisa, then you weren't in the Darien," he explains to me.

"I'm like...in fact, Uvisa is in the Darien Province, and the Parque Nacional Darien is, in fact, across the river from Uvisa. And I walked across the river, so I was, in fact, in the Darien."

"To get to the Darien National Park, you have to go down river from Uvisa," he offers.

"In fact, that's not the case. The Darien National Park goes the entire width of the country, which runs from east to west. So, yes, you can certainly get into the Darien National Park by going upstream, just as you could get into it by going downstream."

"But in the mountains..."

I'm like...."Look...honestly....I don't care what you think. Just let it go."

Like...you're freaking living out of a backpack. I could not care less what you think, moron.

But 10:00 a.m. comes and goes, and the sailboat, which I can see in the harbor, never moves an inch closer to the dock where I've been told I'm supposed to load.

Finally, I ride back to the hostel.

When I get there, I explain that the San Blas Cat is just sitting in the harbor, but won't come to the dock. At which point, the owner (Marco Polo) of the hostel starts trying to communicate with the guy in the San Blas Cat out in the harbor, and he says he doesn't have any reservations for motorcycles today.

So, there was a big miscommunication, it seems. Like...you can go to their website which clearly states that they sail from Portobelo every Monday which is clearly a lie.

Like... I can tell you that they didn't sail today. So, there is that.

Apparently, you have to make a reservation and, apparently, all of the contacts that Steve and I made wasn't good enough for them to ever even say: "We won't sail on Monday if you don't give us a deposit". Saying that would have cleared things up immensely, I think.

But, it is what it is. There's no use crying over spilled milk.

I talk to a few people in town. Mostly people who dropped out of civilization and sort of ended up down here for reasons even they don't truly grasp. And they indicate that there are a lot of boats operating out of Puerto Lindo.

So, there's a chance I could get out of a boat in Puerto Lindo.

I start to ride the motorcycle to Porto Lindo, but it starts to rain and lord fucking god would someone turn the fucking sky-faucets off? Seriously?

I've talkd with Ben about this. And also with Ken, one of the riders I met yesterday....after the trip, all of you remember is the great adventures you had riding all over the planet on your motorcycle. But when you're doing it, it's grueling work. It's hard, and hot and tedious and dangerous and, somehow, when you look back on it, you think it was fun. But it's not really all that much fun. I mean...part of the day is fun. But it's also like you're working harder every day than you've ever worked in your life, in a country where they don't speak your language, and they measure gas in liters and distance in kilometers. About the only thing we use that's the same is we use the same clocks, it seems.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2017 at 12:21 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 25 Photos - Uvisa, Darien Province, Panama

Continue reading "Day 25 Photos - Uvisa, Darien Province, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 10:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 24 Photos - Tocumen, Panama to Uvisa, Panama

Continue reading "Day 24 Photos - Tocumen, Panama to Uvisa, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 7:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 27 Photos - Torti, Panama to Portobelo, Panama

More photos in extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 27 Photos - Torti, Panama to Portobelo, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 9:18 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 28 [Sun 12/10/17] - Portobelo, Panama

No destination planned.

Today, I wake up in a hostel in Portobelo, Panama. It's a shared room that set me back $10 a night. Ouch. I spread out all of my gear over 2 beds, because I need everythin to dry out. The owner coms to me to complain, and I explain to him that I need the beds to dry out my things and, I can pay for both beds, if necessary.

This is shocking to him. He's apparently never seen such a brash display of wealth.

One of the helpers comes in and offers to bring me a cup of coffee, which I greatfully accept. Con asucar y leche, por favor.

Someone rings the church bells in the town. Stray dogs bark at the challenge. Now there is a service going on, broadcast through that eternal, perpetual, 3rd world speaker. At least this time, I know what they're selling. They're pushing religion on the masses. Only the dogs seem to mind.

The sun comes out. How glad I am to see the sun. I was beginning to question if it still exists.

A smarter person would waterproof their gear, but I am not a smart man.

I update my expenses online. Now, to try to get some photos uploaded. Watching that power line explode yesterday in the rain was absolutely surreal. I wanted to call someone, but I didn't even know who to call.

Photos uploading now from yesterday...

Like...a noise ordinance would go a long way towards making a place like this semi-tolerable.

The rains start again, but quickly stops. I'm thinking that I should go for a ride. It's 10:22 a.m. here. It seems as though I'm somehow wandered from PST to EST. Go figure.

As I'm looking down from the hostel where I'm staying (for $10 a night...ouch), I see 2 motorcycles pull up, and one of them has Colorado plates. I'm like...no freaking way. I've been on the road for 28 days. I rode 6,400 miles to get here. And now, there's another guy here, in Portebelo, with Colorado plates? What are the odds? I have seen very few other motorcyclists doing what I'm doing down here. And yet, here they are....2 guys riding to Ushuia, same as me. One from Virginia. One from Colorado. On Suzuki thumpers. Getting it done.

Over dinner, Ken shows me how to load all of the maps for South America into my Garmin. It takes about 5 minutes. So, that's a big improvement. Also, I start using WhatsApp for the first time.

They stay at the same hostel as me, but they're sailing on a different boat tomorrow. Their boat leaves at 8:00 a.m. Mine sails at 10:00 a.m. So, we'll try to meet up in Colombia once we both get over there, I think. Would be nice to have some people to ride with, for a change.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 7:22 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Harley Riders - A Clarification

Just so we're clear, I have no problem with people that ride Harleys. But, as a general rule, they think that they're better than other riders, and they don't wave at me when I wave at them. 9/10 motorcycle riders will wave back at me when I'm riding and I wave at them. For Harley riders, it's much less than 1 out of 10 that will wave back. Like 1 in 100.

I've also heard them say things like, "Hey man...your bike is leaking something....RICE!", meaning that it was imported from Japan.

So, you know, after a while, it gets old and it wears on you.

Also, MOST Harley riders (but not all), spend their nights focused on how their bike sounds. And they tear out everything put in there at the factory meant to reduce the sound to a tolerable level, and they drill out the baffles, and then roll the thottle like children at a birthday party trying to get attention.

This isn't something that I'm making up. Ask anyone that doesn't ride a Harley, and they'll tell you the same thing. Are all Harley riders this way? No, clearly not. Are most of them this way, certainly, they are. It's why SouthPark did a whole episode on Harley riders.


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2017 at 5:28 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 26 Photos - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama

Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 26 Photos - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama "

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 11:22 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 27 [Sat 12/09/17] - Torti, Panama to PortoBello, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hostal Portabelo, in Portabelo, Panama.

Hoy es Sabado.

Starting Odometer: 10,835
Ending Odometer: 11,002
Distance Traveled Today: 167 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,399 miles [11,002 - 4,603]


Today my ride will look something like this, however, I'm not clear if I'll stop on Saturday in Tocumen or Panama City. It depends on the weather, as always. Also, I may try to pick up a differnt DSLR camera when I pass through Panama City. The cameras I have are just sort of barely functioning at this point. So, I'd like to pick up a new DSLR, if I can find a camera store in Panama City.

Then, at some point Saturday or Sunday, I need to roll on up to Portobelo, on the Carribbean (Atlantic) side of the country.

And yes, I told someone today that Portobelo was on the Carribbean side, not the Atlantic side today. So, yes, I am that stupid, it seems.

I have already reached out to the people that run the sailboat between Portobelo, Panama and Colombia. This is their website: http://www.sanblascat.com. Basically, what I said was, I want to get on the boat on Monday December 11th. My motorcycle has a curb weight of 500 lbs, and is the coolest motorcycle to have crossed through North, Central, and South America. So, we'll see what they say.

I have some concerns that possibly 1) they'll be all booked up or 2) it will rain so hard this weekend that I'll need to swim to Portobelo or 3) I'll get there and they'll say my bike is 11 pounds over the weight limit or 4) they'll ask why I never paid that ticket I got in Panama or 5) other.

However, if I can't get on the sailboat from Portobelo, then I'll just roll out to the Tocument airport and FedEx the bike down to Colombia, which is essentially what I did last time. (Last time I FedEx'ed the bike back to the USA, but it was pretty simple and straight forward. I could easily do this and FedEx the bike to Colombia, and this is my backup plan. Cost would be roughly the same, and much faster this way, if I'm not mistaken.)

The main reason I'm planning on taking the sailboat through the San Blas islands is because....are you kidding me? Have you seen the freaking San Blas islands???

Dripping Wet

Today, I get up in Torti, Panama and get rolling early. I checked the forecast, it it looked like my best chance to ride was early in the morning.
So I get up and bolt out of there. A bunch of bird watchers were here last night. None of them had a 400 f/5.6 though. Which I happened to have with me.
I did shoot some of the hummingbirds, and they are kind of cute, but that's not really why I'm here.

So I bolt from the place and I don't get far before it's pouring again, so I seek shelter and stop. An hour later, I'm rolling again. It's hard to know when to keep riding and when to call it a day. But my thought is that, I'll keep riding as long as there's daylight. I need to get to at least Tocument, and preferably, all the way to Portobelo.

So, all day, it goes like this for me. Ride....stop and seek shelter. Ride...stop and seek shelter. Finally, I get to within about 10 miles of the hotel at the Tocumen airport, and I'm like...to hell with it. I'm not stopping. So I keep riding. Massive road construction project. Panama seems to be always building, but never quite finishing these massive road projects. Now, it's raining cats and dogs. The streets are absolutely flooded. The rain is 2 feet deep in places deeper.

But I'm not stopping. I keep going. If it's only 10 miles to the hotel, I'm riding, right?

I've never seen water like this. Like we're riding through a lagoon. 1'-2' of standing water. Who designed their drainage system?

By the time I get to the hotel, it has actually stopped raining. So, I'm sort of half-inclined to keep riding. The thing about this weather is, it's really hard (for me) to predict when it will rain, and when it won't. And if I need to ride another 60 miles to Portobelo, part of me thinks....dude....keep riding.

Finally, I get to the hotel. I'm thoroughly soaked. I walk into the hotel. They see that I'm soaking wet, and raise the rate. I'm like...no...I'll just make the reservation on Hotels.com. Is that what you want me to do? Well, if you do that, then it will take us a half an hour to get it. They're playing with me. I'm like..."I can make this easier for you. You don't want me here? I'll go somewhere else."

And I go outside, climb on my bike, and keep riding. For once, it's not raining. It seems like a stupid time to be checking into a hotel, soaking wet. And as soon as I start riding, I start to dry off.

That's the funny thing about rain. Riding in rain sucks, big time. But riding out of a rainstorm is exhilirating in a way that's hard to describe.

So I take off, following Waze north on the North Corridor. At first, just gridlock traffic, but eventually, we get out of the city, now heading north to Colon.

And I have no problem until I get to about 16 miles outside of Colon, at which point the bottom falls out.

I promptly pull my motorcycle under a shed where passengers wait for the bus. No one seems to mind, and I sit there for about 30 minutes or maybe an hour.

Then, this woman starts talking very excitedly. I look up and see that a power line/telephone pole is burning. Across the street, the whole thing is going up in flames, and sparks start exploding from it. I'm not making this up. Never seen anything remotely like it in my life. So I break out my 100-400mm long lens, stick the only functioning canon frame on it, and push the button, not sure what will happen. The pole explodes again, and I get some pretty good shots as Western Civilization basically melts down before my eyes. What in the absolute fuck is going on.

I try to tell the woman to call someone. I have no idea who to call, obviously. I'm not even really sure where we are, or how to speak the language, much less which authority to call.

It's odd, but the other people seem largely unaffected by the rain. They walk up and down the street in their clothes, sans umbrella, like the rain does not affect them. It's really hard to grasp. I've never seen anything like this. They don't run, or rush. Or bend over. Or hunker down. They just walk normally, through the rain, like it's not even there.

A cab comes, adn the woman gets in, and she waves goodbye and leaves. I'm not clear if she ever called anyone or not. I'm not clear how to communicate what I just saw, or who I should tell. This is a strange adventure I'm on. And it seems to get stranger every day.

It's now 3:00 p.m. I think that the poeople riding the bus are smarter than I am. They're not here any more. They've gone on with their lives. I'm still sitting here, like a moron, in a driving December rain, wondering if I will ever make it to the Carribbean/Atlantic coast. I've never even seen this part of Panama before. Now, it's 3:00 p.m., and I'm not sure if it will clear up or not. I hear thunder. And the rains continue.

Somehow, the utility pole still stands, and now there seems to be no more firey explosions.

Everyone has left, and now a new person comes and hails a cab. I don't say anything to him about the explosions on the power line. I'm not clear how to communicate what I've just witnessed, so I just let it go.

I am glad (and pleasantly surprised) to learn that one of my cameras is still functioning. That means that, if I do ever make it to Portebelo, then I'll have at least one camera to photograph the islands with.

Finally, I check the forecast. It looks like it's not going to stop. The forecast for rain for Colon shows 100% in the forecast for the foreseeable future. So I figure, fuck it. Let's ride there. In the driving rain, and get this over with. Christ.

So, at 3:00 p.m., I set my Waze to Portobelo. 34 miles. 1 hour. 11 mins. Here we go, people. Hang onto your asses.

So I climb onto my bike and take off into the rain.

I have my CC Filson bag inside of a trash bag. I don't know why I don't have waterproof gear. I don't really have a good answer for that one. I'm glad to know that one of my cameras is still working though.

And I just roll out into the rain.

When I get to Colon, surprisingly, the rain stops. I only went 8 miles before the rain stopped.

And now, I'm riding towards Portabelo. Eventually, I find my way down to the coast, and maybe you will never know what it's like to ride a motorcycle out of a pouring rain. But now, imagine, riding a motorcycle out of the pouring rain, and finding the Carribbean coast. That's what happened to me today.

I see some people swimming down on the beach, and they're callng to me...come on, amigo! So, I go down to them, and they hand me a beer. This is what the ride is about. Putting yourself out there. Pushing the envelope. This is where I ended up.

Now, I tell them, I have to roll on. Still must make it to Portabelo. Still about 10 miles to go. As I get back on my bike, it starts to rain again. Now, I ride out of the rain once again, and I'm following the coast. I'm not really clear what direction. East?

I begin to wonder...will they have a gas station? Will there be a hotel? You never really know the answers to these questions, it seems. Only I know that I was told to be in Portabelo on Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. to load the motorcycles.

Now, I'm wondering....will there be any signs of cililization in Portabelo?

I roll into town, and I see that there is a Hostel, at least. With WiFi. It costs $10.00 a night. Beers are $1.00. So I check into the hostel.

Now, I have a place to stay, and a place to eat. I'm still not sure on the gasoline part. But, the boats have to have gasoline. So, there has to be a gas station, right?

I'm just glad to be here. I'm so sick of riding in the rain all day. So dangerous. So much not what I want to be doing.

I ask the owner of the Hostel...he says that he knows the guy that brings the sailboat in on Monday. He says we just go down and load the motorcycles by hand. I find that hard to imagine, since my bike weighs 500 pounds.

But, I've done my part. I'm here. I'm ready to load my bike on and sail through the San Blas Islands for 4 days.

And, I have internet access. Woohoo!

My papers and clothes are all spread out all over the place, hoping for them to dry at some point in time. Everything thing I have got pretty soaked today. Not really a fun ride, but I am glad that I made it here, anyway. Now, tomorrow, I can relax. :)

For some reason, everyone here speaks French. Not clear how the frogs found this place. I ask the owner if there's a gas staion on the town. He says that it's a gecko, pointing to the lizard on the dining room table. I'm like..."No...otro. Es stacion para gasolina en PortoBello?"

Finally, he grasps that I'm not interested in, or referring to, the lizard. I'm asking if there is a gas station in town. He assures me that there is.

That's one thing I want to make sure is that I'm not leaving the country with a half a tank of gas. I want my gas tank to be full.

He indicates that the motorcycles will be loaded on by hand. I find it hard to grasp that this is possible. I can't even pick it up if I drop it. And somehow, he's saying that we can all just pick it up and put it on the boat. OK. We'll see then won't we?

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 8:13 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Sin zapato? Donde el gato?!!

Today was really fun, for several reasons.
I never planned on rolling around in Panama for a week. That was never really my intention, I don't think. But also, riding 300 miles a day was so incredibly arduous that I was beginning to question my own sanity.

So, I begged Steve to let me take a week off, and he agreed, provided that I pinky swear not to miss the San Blas Island Tour sailboat that leaves from Portobelo, Panama on Monday. Which I did. So, basically, that meant that I had a week off to tour Panama on a motorcycle during the unseasonably, unreasonably wet December, which is not normally part of the rainy season.

So now, I've spent the last couple of days kind of poking around and peeking around in Panama, and really enjoyed what I've found.

What I found is a birding community, that comes from all over the world, to photograph rare birds. And I'm glad I just happen to have my 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM telescopic zoom lens to shoot with.

All afternoon, I was able to relax and shoot the local birds, flowers, dogs and cats. Really a nice day. And then, eventually, I sort of grasp who the hotel owner is, and his mother, and his daughter. And he's fluent in English and Spanish, so he helps me with my Spanish, which is so nice. To have someone help you without being condescending. Someone who truly sees that you're trying, and helps you when you ask for help. Really nice.

And now, his other daughter is in Brazil, but doesn't have the Yellow Fever shot, and there's some nightmare to try to get it all sorted out.

When the darkness pulls in close around us, and all of the other patrons fade from the restaurant, he tells me to just pull my motorcycle into the covered open-air seating section of the restaurant at night so the bike won't be wet in the morning.

This is what you hope to find, I think. Is this jungled canopy with Howler monkeys and parakeets and 64 different flavors of hummingbirds at the feeders, fighting each in a life-or-death struggle over sugar water.

With cats and dogs....gatos and peros de calle...I'm sipping coffee and you just want to sit back and go..."Yep. Nailed it." Like...how could life get any better than this? This is what I hoped to find, I think. Some place, deep in the Latin American jungled canopy where people would accept you in, as one of their own. And welcome you in from the rains of December.

After dinner, I'm sitting at the table, sipping coffee...con leche y asucar, and his mother looks at me, and under my chair, and what I thought I heard her say was 'something or other "el gato" '. So, immediately, I'm like..."DONDE EL GATO???!!"

Like...did you say there was a cat? Where is the cat? I saw some earlier this afternoon...where are they? And they all start laughing, because that's not what she said at all.

What she said was "Sin zapato?" (Meaning...you're not wearing shoes at the dinner table?) And I'm not even clear if I was wearing pants. I'm doing the best I can. I think I was wearing a swimsuit, and was certainly barefoot, at the dinner table.

But then, we're all laughing...3 generations...laughing at or with the gringo loco. Just crazy fun. Really great to be down here, kicking around in the jungle with my new friends.

It looks like, if I'm going to make it up to Panama City in the morning, I'm going to have to get an early start, as it's going to be raining again by noon. For someone who intentionally planned on NOT driving through Central America during the rainy season this time, I sure as hell am getting a lot of rain on this trip.

I wish I were more proficient in Spanish. Basically, I'm operating at the level of a retarded first grader.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 7:42 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 26 [Fri 12/08/17] - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Torti Portal Avicar in Torti, Panama.

Hoy es viernes.

Starting Odometer: 10,752
Ending Odometer: 10,835
Distance Traveled Today: 83 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,232 miles [10,835 - 4,603]

My ride today looked something like this.

I wake up this morning to a pouring rain. I just roll back over and go back to sleep. I'm hoping at some point that the rain will stop. I intentionally did not come here during the rainy season. It's hard to grasp how much it rains down here, but the men coming out of the jungles with dugout canoes full of plantains should be some indication of the rainfall, I suppose.

By 9:30 a.m., it has let up. A man walks through the streets with a cooler in a wheelbarrow calling "Pay-COE,Pay-COE,Pay-COE!"
Update: My friend says he was probably selling pork?

Roosters begin to crow. Do they crow when it stops raining? Who can tell? They seem to crow all day, as best as I can tell.

Eventually, it does stop raining, pretty much any way.

I decide to make a break for it. I will get on my bike and roll out of town. But first, I will stop at one of the stores by the port and see if they have a trash bag to put my CC Filson handbag in. That's all I need to make it waterproof, I think.

I stop at the sign that says it's the end of the Pan American Highway. I try to get people to take my photo with a DSLR, but they really just don't grasp it. I think I'll just have to photoshop this picture.

The road at first is very good. Perfect even, all the way to the edge of the Darien province.

There are many border checkpoints. The first one I come to is a Senafront checkpoint at about 35 miles. Then, at about 65 miles, there's another border checkpoint. This one is at the border of the Darien Province. He points for me to pull over. She asks for my passport. I offer it to them, and tell them I came through 2 days ago. I don't think that they could ever find my name in their notebook, but that's hardly my problem, and they wave me on.

Then, some potholes as soon as I leave the Darien Provice, but the road is still pretty good.

I'm hoping to make it to Panama City today without getting wet, when I pass a little shanty on the side on the road and a sign says Pi Pi Frios. I have no idea what they're selling so I circle back to check. Turns out, it's CoCo Frios, and I have no idea why he called it PiPi frios. It's not my country. I'm just passing through. I rode my bike across a little concrete footbridge to get to the store, and managed to drop my bike for the 3rd time on this adventure. I called for "mi amigo" to come out and help me stand up the bike, and he did and I promise you I could not have stood it up on my own. I managed to get some shots of it this time before we stood it up.

So I take off again. I'm hoping to make it to Panama City without the rains, but just before I make just to the edge of Torti de Chepo when I run into just a wall of rain. Now, I can turn back, or try to make it into what looks like a small town up ahead. I decide to push for it. A service station on the left, and I'm out of the rain. At first, no one is here, then a man shows up, and his son, and then also his business partner it seems.

I talk to them for some time. Always, people are truly shocked to learn that I rode my motorcycle here, alone, over the last month, from Denver, Colorado. Like...it's just extremely rare. No one with half a brain would even try it, I think.

After about an hour or so, the rain lets up, and I decide to try riding again. But it's still raining too hard. Like...I will just be soaked if I try to make it to Panama City today. I loop through the town a few times, trying to make a decision. I see a hotel. And a restaurant. And then I see that the hotel is also a restaurant also, and this is my favorite configuration. This is ideal. This means you can check in and not get wet anymore today. And that's worth something.

He tells me a room is $38.00 USD a night and I'm about to choke. Like...how do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night, man?

I balk at the rate, but he points to a sign on the wall that says $38.00 a night. So I decide to go for it.

He gives me the password for the Wifi, and in my room, I can't get either the MacBook Air or the iPhone 6S+ to join the network. But I turn on the A/C with the remote, and it's already set to 22C. When I go back in the restaurant, the the iphone and the MacBook Air join the WiFi network with no problem.

There is a "pero calle" here, with both left legs severely injured. I'm tossing him chicken from my plate, and the owner comes and leads him off with a dish of food. I'm not clear what the protocol is on feeding pero calles, but I don't really care either. I'm more concerned with getting caught when they don't approve is all.

Later, he says of the dog, that it was hit by a car. And he took it to the vet, but it was too expensive to fix. He wanted like $800 or something. So he couldn't afford to fix him.

And, I think that coming down this way has pushed me way far out of my normal zeitgeist, so that I'm seeing things I wouldn't normally see in Denver or San Francisco or Los Angeles.

I'm seeing trucks of cows on their way to be butchered. And I ask the guy...."es pero leche o carne asado?" And he laughs and says, "carne asado".

Like....that's not really funny to me. These cows are on their way to die. And this is really the part of it that you miss out on when you're eating out every night in California or Colorado. We're so far removed from our food supply, that you sort of lose focus on where it comes from.

Not like I'm going to turn into a vegan or anything, but it is odd, seeing the food chain with your own eyes.

The roosters seem to crow incessantly. Maybe I should get some roosters when I get home. How cool would that be?

I go down for lunch or dinner...I'm not sure which. It's about 3:00 p.m. I ask the owner where I can find some monkeys. He says he heard the howling this morning. I'm thinking...why on earth was I leaving this place?

I love the coins in Panama. They use US Dollars, but mint their own coins, which are crazy cool with colored flags on them, etc.

The owner of the restaurant said he had to put sugar water out for 8 months to get the hummingbirds to come. Also, he says, with the Howler Monkeys it is the same thing. He has to put plantains out for them, but it takes them a while to catch on.

He points to the trees where they will be in the morning. "They will wake you up," he warns.

He says that, a guy came through here, about a year ago, and went through the Darien Gap with a motorcycle. He says that the guy was alone, and wrote for a motorcycle magazine. And lived in Washington State. At first I thought he might be talking about Dylan Wickrama who used Isaac N Pizzaro as his guide, but now I think that isn't right, because he said the guy came through at the end of last year, or earlier this year. But that wouldn't have been Dylan Wickrama, as he did this in 2014. But this is just what I need....some guy telling me that there's a guide who will take you through the Darien with a motorcycle. Thanks a lot. Thanks for that.

Maybe it was Jason Motlagh?

When I go to take photos with my one still-functioning camera, I realize that both of my lens are freezing cold, and therefore the 100% humidity condenses on them, and I have to wait now at least an hour before I can take any photos. Rookie mistake. I had the same problem in Peru. I used to leave my lenses at the front desk when I checked into my room at night because the condensation is always an issue if the AC is on in the room (and you're in a 100% humidity jungle in the morning).

I take a shower and get cleaned up and then go down for coffee.

The owner speaks to me in Spanish, even though he's perfectly fluent in English, which I greatly appreciate. Like...if I wanted to speak English, I'd be in the USA. When I'm down here, I want to speak in Spanish. When people tell me to speak in English, it makes me want to lose my mind. Like...how about I'll speak in whatever language I choose?

So I'm really happy that he speaks to me in Spanish.

"Uno cafe, por favor," I say.

"Con leche?"

"Si, por favor."

"Y asucar?"

"Si, por favor."

It did quit raining, this afternoon, and I could have easily left and made it to Panama City. But it's so hard to predict these rains. And, when you're soaking wet, I could have sat there and had lunch, with all of my gear on, hoping it quit raining. But it's so much nice to check in, get cleaned up, change clothes, and then go down and eat lunch/dinner when you're dry, not even worried about the rain.

Finally, I got something clarified with my buddy here at the hotel.

I'm like....why in God's name is it raining like this? This is not the rainy season, right?

And he's like, "Right. Normally, the rainy season ends in November, so it is unusual to be getting this much rain at this time of the year. This is very late in the season for it to still be this wet,"

So, I'm not insane. This is an unseasonably wet December for Panama. Great.

Update: I wanted to point out that, so far on this trip, all of the electrical outlets have been the same. The only difference being, occasionally, I'll have a 2 prong outlet (sans ground plug), which would ordinarily prevent me from plugging in my MacBook Air power cord. However, because I have my international adapter, it basically allows me to plug my 3 prong power cord into a 2 prong outlet. So, not a huge deal, but it is somewhat interesting that all of Central America basically uses the same outlets we use, whereas in South America, that is not the case.

Also, I think it's somewhat funny, or oddly amusing that I find Panama so attractive. I haven't been to a nice, secluded white-sand beach (without shanty town shacks on it) in Panama since I got here. But I do like the country. I like that it's so far away from civilization, as it were. That you can fall asleep to the sound of parakeets, and wake up to the sound of Howler Monkeys. That they have special forces guarding the "Fronterra". It's just so far away from San Francisco or Los Angeles or Denver. It's really hard to believe that I'm still on the same planet.

Regarding the Darien Gap:
I'm not going through the Darien Gap. Why? Primarily because my bike is too heavy. I could get a guide, and I could probably make it through the Darien Gap. But I don't want to deal with getting this bike through there. If I drop it, I can't even pick it up. If I had a little Honda CR 125, then maybe I'd try it. But with this bike, I don't think so. I dropped it for the third time today, and I had a hard time picking it up with someone helping me. :P


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 12:35 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 25 [Thr 12/07/17] - Yaviza, Panama [Parque Nacional Darién]

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hospedaje Sobia Kiru [Corazon Bueno] in Yaviza, Panama. (I plan to stay here for a 2nd night.)

Update 2: I still don't have WiFi at my hotel, so I can't post photos right now. Will try to catch up on photos when I return from the Darién (dah REE Uhn).

Hoy es Jueves.

Starting Odometer: 10,752
Ending Odometer: 10,752
Distance Traveled Today: 0 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,149 miles [10,752 - 4,603]

All day long, this port is just madness. Insanity.

A woman walks through the street with a parrot. Dogs and chickens walk the street. Two dogs square off in the street in a vicious battle. No one intervenes.

A man explains that the "Cervesa in bota es para Boca de Cupe", so the one 20-30 meter canoe loaded with beer from stem to stern is heading for Boca de Cupe, downstream. (It appears to be upstream on my maps, but what do I know?)

Several canoes are just packed with bananas. He says that the plantains are to be shipped to \panama city in trucks.

He says that the bananas are worth $10 USD for 100 platains, and the boat has 6,000 platains, so the boat has $600 worth of bananas in it, which is a lot of money in this area, I think.

He says this goes on all year long. It never stops. They're cutting bananas from the jungle for free, essentially, and bringing them to port.

The whole time, they're splashing the plantains with water, to keep them fresh. Then, they pack the canoes with other goods on the return voyage.

Cervesa, tanks of propane, mattresses, freezers packed with ice and fresh fish.

Just upriver is a footbridge, where they can cross the river. Also, two pipes cross with the bridge, presumably for water.

Loading and unloading the boats takes some time, and the port is jammed with dugout canoes, so they toss the cargo through the air to load and unload the boats more quickly.

I ask the port authority if they know where they are going, but they don't. There's no paperwork or anything. They just sort of stand watch over the madness, same as me.

Vultures walk the streets.

There is an observation deck, where people come to watch. This is the most busiest place in town, so people do come here to watch, it appears.

A woman comes by. She climbed out of a canoe, apparently. She says that, tomorrow, in Corozal, there is a big party. It's about 1 hour up-river. And she'll be back in an hour.
And I can go with them to the party if I want to.

I explain to the security guards that there are 4-5 americans that are coming here on motorcycles to cross into the Darien. He says it's suicidal. But the other guard disagrees. He says they can make it if they follow a certain route, which he lays out. I dunno.

Now, one of the innermost boats needs to push his way out of the port, so he turns his propeller, and puses the others upriver out of his way, and then escapes backwards.

One of the boats has a propeller that's missing huge chunks out of all three blades.

I go to the edge of town to get my photos with the sign that indicates the end of the PanAmerican highway, but no one really knows how to operate a DSLR. They've never seen one before, it seems.

Yesterday, there were about a dozen Americans on some bid-watching tour taking photos of some birds in the trees. And I had the biggest lens out of all of them. But I should have gotten them to take my photo at the sign. At least they know how to use a DSLR.

I roll through town, filming wiht the GoPro, trying to capture the squalid third world poverty, as I won't remember, and no one would believe me if I did. So the GoPro is sort of an unbiased observer, in effect.

I roll around town and find the gas station that I saw when I rolled into town yesterday. So glad to know that it's there. That means I'll have no trouble escaping the Darien (Dah-REE-uhn) when the time comes. But today is only Thursday. And it seems a little early to be rushing back into civilization. My boat doesn't sail until Monday. So, I think I'll return to Panama City tomorrow (Friday), and then go up to Colon, or wherever it is I'm supposed to be, on Saturday.

Yesterday, I paid the slumlord $30, and she only asked for $25 a night, so I go today and find her and demand she return my change. She acts like she doesn't know what I'm talking about, or understand me, but eventually she give me my $5.00 back. Then, I tell her that I want ot stay another night, but there's no way I can pay $25 a night, obviously. So, I tell her I'll pay $20 a night. She balks, but when I start asking about other hotels, she agrees and takes the $20.

I have A/C, and a shower. There's no hot water, per se, but it's not like you want to take hot showers down here anyway. Any shower is fine. The water doesn't need to be hot.

I walk across the footbridge over the river to the other side, but then, once I get there, I'm not sure what to do so I return. I'd like to get in a boat and go up or down the river, but I'm not really clear how to go about it. There's not like a travel agency here or anything.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2017 at 8:53 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 24 [Wed 12/06/17] - Tocumen, Panama to Yaviza, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hospedaje Sobia Kiru [Corazon Bueno] in Yaviza, Panama.
Update 2: I don't have WiFi at my hotel, so I can't post photos right now. Will try to post today's photos from Tocumen to Yaviza tomorrow night.

Hoy es Miercoles.

Starting Odometer: 10,581
Ending Odometer: 10,752
Distance Traveled Today: 171 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,149 miles [10,752 - 4,603]

0 miles - Panama City, Panama
176 miles - Yaviza, Panama (4h:10m)

My ride today looks something like this.

Forecast: Rain. Everywhere. Mostly in the afternoon. So I need to get riding.

Before I run from here [Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama]...

Just a few notes before I dash for the day. This place...the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama is decadant. This is what you hope to find, on the road, IMHO. The hotel is not on the beach. It's inland a few kilometers. But it is decadent. A jungled landscape with orchids y gatos. Giant chess set. A waterfall and a swim-up bar. The beds have thick plush blankets and waterfall showerheads. So different than most of the places that I've stayd on this journey where I'm just usually balking at paying more that $25 USD a night.

I've spent so much time running on this trip, from one paradise to the next, that it's hard to keep it all straight in my head. It was really fun to roll into Panama City and recognize the skyline and find the same hotel I stayed at last time without a map or having to google or anything.

There was a stray black and white cat here last night, and I begged the kitchen to give him some food..."la comida basura es perfecto, por favor" Finally, they gave me some grilled bananas for the cat. He wasn't sure about the choice of entree.

At the "free" continental breakfast", I'm talking to the waitress [in my broken spanish] and she asks me if I'm from Brazil. And I'm like....no...de los estados unidas. Like...how cool is that to be traveling abroad and have someone guess that you're from Brazil?

One of my cameras is solidly broken. One of the Canon EOS 50D's has given up the ghost. I searched Craigslist for Panama and see nothing out there. So, I'm not clear what the solution is at this point. Buy a new cameras in Panama City, or maybe check Craigslist in Colombia and see if anyone has an EOS 50D for sale there?

Also, since I'm in Panama, every sucker I see is breaking $50 bills for me because you need more US currency. When you're tipping people at the border, every country on earth takes USD, and you don't have to calculator to figure out how bad you're getting ripped off when he asks you for $2,000 colones, or 50 cordobas, or 27 quetzals, or 17 pesos. You know how much $5 USD is. Hand him a fiver and go on with your day. Genius.

Every morning, I'm chasing currencies out of my wallet from some country I'll never see again. Imagine if, every other day, you had to start over with a new currency. That's literally what I'm doing. So, basically, the exchange rate for your currency changes every other day. And then, out with the old, in with the new. I stick the old money in my money belt, and move on. At some point, I need to FedEx all of this back to the USA so I don't go to prison when I try to come back into the country.


So, every tiime I gas up, stop for a snack, etc, I've got them breaking $50 bills for me like an afternoon rainstorm. Speaking of...I'd better get moving.

Diatribe continues in the extended entry...

Continue reading "Day 24 [Wed 12/06/17] - Tocumen, Panama to Yaviza, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 6, 2017 at 7:10 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Mea Culpa

Mea culpa. I just checked my "Manage Comments" section of Peenie Wallie, and there were some unapproved comments in there. I really haven't done much with this website over the last 2 years as I've bounced back and forth between Colorado and Kalifornia like a ping pong ball in a dryer and I forgot that I need to be monitoring the comments.

So, I apologize to those of you that posted comments that didn't appear. Mea culpa. All comments have been approved as of this morning.

Muchas gracias.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 6, 2017 at 7:03 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 23 Photos


Continue reading "Day 23 Photos"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 5, 2017 at 8:10 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Day 22 Photos

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 8:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 21 Photos

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 21 Photos"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 7:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 23 [Tue 12/05/17] - Paso Canoas, Panama to Panama City, Panama

Update: I am alive and well, having dinner and drinks at the swim-up-bar at the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama. (This is the same place I stayed last time I was down this way. I remembered this hotel...I was like...uh...yeah...I'm going back there again.)

Starting Odometer: 10,235
Ending Odometer: 10,581
Distance Traveled Today: 346 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,978 miles [10,581 - 4,603]


0 miles - Paso Canoas, Panama
152 miles - Santiago, Panama (3h:11m)
156 miles - Panama City, Panama (3h:14m) 308 miles

My ride today looks something like this.
Expenses from yesterday (December 3rd)

So, I wake up this morning in Paso Canoas, Panama. I did a good job last night of getting all of my tasks done. Like, every night, I have a series of tasks I have to do:

Daily Evening tasks:
O Record odometer on motorcycle.
O Take a shower.
O Wash clothes in the sink.
O Copy videos off of GoPro Hero 5.
O Archive tracks on Garmin Montana.
O Log expenses.
O Copy photos off of cameras onto laptop. Upload photos to website.
O Plan ride for tomorrow.
O Clean GoPro camera.
O Charge Canon EOS 50D batteries.
O Charge iPhone 6S+.
O Charge MacBook Air.
O Charge GoPro Hero 5.
O Charge Garmin Montana 600.


Daily Morning tasks:
O Oil chain in the parking lot.
O Clean mirrors, windshield, and digital instrument cluster on 2017 Honda Africa Twin.
O Gas up bike.
O Set trip meters.
O Log mileage, volume, cost.
O Program 1st destination into Waze.

So, what I've discovered is that, the more I get done at night, before I go to sleep, the less work I have to do in the morning.
It's a whole self-discipline thing. And, I pretty much have no self-discipline. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that. But I
like that the adventure makes me more disciplined. Puts a structure/framework around my day. If I'm at home, I just sort of
drift in and out of consciousness, surfing the internet and watching netflix.

But on this adventure, there's no time for that. Zero. Nada. Every day, I'm riding all day, and then doing chores the rest of the
day, and for this, I am thankful. It's the best thing about the trip...that it wakes me up and makes me focus on a set of tasks
all day long, every day.

[Diatribe continues in the extended entry...]

Continue reading "Day 23 [Tue 12/05/17] - Paso Canoas, Panama to Panama City, Panama"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 5:16 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 22 [Mon 12/04/17] - Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica to Paso Canoas, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully along the PanAmerican Highway in the Hotel Hocedaje in San Isidro, Panama on the border (frontera) with Paso Canoas, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 10,105
Ending Odometer: 10,235
Distance Traveled Today: 130 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,632 miles [10,235 - 4,603]

0 miles - Dominical, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
95 miles - Paso Canoas, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica (2:12) 95 miles
5 miles -Border Station Terpel, Panama (0:10) 100 miles

My ride today looks something like this.

So I wake up in the morning, and I'm having some issues with my internet, so I don't get my photos posted for the day. Finally, I just give up and take off. Once again, I leave crazy late, and once again, when I get up, I see that the hotel has spectacular views, that no one would guess when they stop for the night.

So now, I running down the road in Costa Rica. Always, the roads in Costa Rica were very nice, but as I get closer to the border, they get worse and worse. Also, Costa Rica seems to decline as well, now with people living in tin shacks on the side of the road.

When I come to the border with Panama, it's kind of funny because I remember this place. Or maybe I remember the photos of it. But you get the idea. I definitely recognize the buildings on both sides of the border...Costa Rica and Panama.

I hate that I always have to go through this process in the heat of the day. The ideal way to do this would be in the early morning, when it's cooler.

Today, I get through the Costa Rica side of the border with no problems. Always it's easier to get out than it is to get in to the next country.

Now, my handler takes me to get copies, and we're standing at the copy store, and I'm just screaming at my handler that I already have copies.

"No necessito copias. Tengo copias." And, I'm not clear if he thinks I'm an idiot, or what. But I show him that I already have copies, and I'm not paying for more copies. It's very frustrating for me when they don't get what I'm saying, and I'm saying it in their language. Very frustrating.

Eventually, I get through Immigracion and Aduana for both countries. This time, I took notes on how long it took me. I got to the border at 12:50. And I was cleared to enter Panama at 2:48 p.m. So, it took me almost exactly 2 hours to cross the border, which is not bad.

But it's just so hot and miserable. I took off all of my motorcycle gear this time, so I wasn't quite as hot, but it's still just sweltering. And I'm just sweating like a whore in church for 2 hours. It's not fun.

One guy comes rolling up on a KTM with Pennsylvania plates, and I rush over and introduce myself. He's basically on the same track as me, I think. His name is Dan. He said he was from outside of Philadelphia, but I forget where.

I tell him that he's passed Immigracion and Aduana for Costa Rica, and he'll have to go back, and then I take off for Boca Chica. However, I get about 10 miles into Panama, and there's this huge thunderstorm ahead. Once it starts raining on me, I turn around and race back to the border, and get a hotel room on the Panama side of the border for the night.

The funny thing is that Panama has a little border checkpoint just this side of the border, and they asked me (as I'm heading back towards the border with Costa Rica)..."You're not going back into Costa Rica, are you?" And I'm like...no...of course not...why would I?

I check into my hotel ($25 a night seems like a lot), and then I ask her where to go for dinner. And she hands me a menu and asks if I want "Peeza" and finally I realize she thinks I want to order pizza. And I'm like....I want to eat what the locals eat. I don't want to get pizza. I can get that in the USA.

So, finally, she tells me to go to the frontera.

So I ride my motorcycle across a little concrete bridge between the two lanes of traffic between the frontera and the little checkpoint set up in Panama and roll back into town.

Once I get back to the frontera (border), I see that there is a road on each side of the border that goes south through the town, so that, at any point, you can walk across, or ride your motorcycle across a dirt path 8 meters long, and go from one country to the other. Pretty funny, really. So that's why they have the little border checkpoint on the Panama side. Because, you could easily cross into Costa Rica without clearing Immigracion or Aduana.

I stop and eat a chicken dinner with rice and beans in the madness that is the frontera.

The people that own the restaurant (really a more of a shack than a restaurant), but they notice my L.A.M.A. sticker on the bike and start taking photos of it.

"You are in the L.A.M.A.?" he asks in broken english.

"Mi amigos en the L.A.M.A. gave me that sticker. I rode with the in Nicaragua," I reply.

He starts taking photos and comments that he has friends in the L.A.M.A. That sticker carries a lot of weight down here, apparently. Who knew?

Then, it starts to rain again. Great. I didn't even think of that. I'm not a smart man.

So I've decided that I need to start watching the weather forecasts because that's 2 days in a row I've been rained on. And, it is not the rainy season, technically, but you don't look at the foliage down here and wonder if it rains a lot. Costa Rica has the densest jungles I've ever seen, so they get a lot of rain. There's no doubt about that.

I check the forecast for tomorrow, and it shows it's supposed to rain every day for the rest of the week. Great. But it looks like they are sort of spotty afternoon thunderstorms. So, I'll try to get an early start in the morning and see if I can get in a decent ride tomorrow.

Also, I caught myself riding today without food or drinks on the bike, which is against my rules. So I'll stock up in the morning before I hit the road.


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 8:13 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 21 [Sun 12/03/17] - La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica to Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully at the Rio Lindo hotel in Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Starting Odometer: 9,857
Ending Odometer: 10,105
Distance Traveled Today: 248 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,502 miles [10,105 - 4,603]

0 miles - La Cruz, Costa Rica
118 miles - Punta Arenas, Costa Rica (2:49) 118 miles
110 miles - Dominical,Puntarenas, Costa Rica (2:50) 228 miles


My ride today looks something like this.

So Steve, it looks like I'll miss the ferry tomorrow, and then catch one the following Monday, which isn't ideal, but it is what it is. So I'll plan on spending a couple of days in Costa Rica and catching the ferry from Panama to Colombia on Monday December 10th, I think? Also, I'd like to ride down to the end of the PanAmerican Highway and get my photo taken at the Darien Gap. I think that there's a sign that says "End of the Panamerican Highway".

What's funny is that, if I'm not mistaken, now I'm on the same path that I took last time I was down this way, which is kinda fun. Seeing what (if anything) I remember from the ride in back in June of 2013. That was almost exactly 4 1/2 years ago. Man how the time flies. How does it get by us so that, suddenly, you look around and think...Man I haven't been to Costa Rica in a LONG time?

I archived my current track (again) on my Garmin Montana 600. I'm not really clear what this does, but it did create a second archive in my GPS dated 12/3/2017. So now, I have two archived tracks: 12/2 and 12/3. Woohoo!

OK. So, I entered my expenses from yesterday, archived my tracks, copied over my video from the GoPro. Planned my ride for the day. Now, I'll oil my chain in the parking lot, gas up, and head down to check out the ocean. Honestly, I kind of miss it as I've been in the jungles, mountains, and plains for several days now. Kinda miss the beach.

In the morning, I walk out and look at the view, and it's just staggering. Breathtaking. I'm looking out over this bay off of the Pacific Ocean. At night, you couldn't see this, of course. So I had no idea of the view that I was missing. But in the morning, people are eating breakfast or lunch, looking out at the stunning views of the Nicoya Gulf. Breathtaking. I decide that I have to drive down there, so I drive down to the beach. Then, I turn around and come back, gas up, and get out of town.

Now, I'm rolling south and east, basically following the coast. The roads are just amazing down here. There aren't words. It's as if Costa Rica got up this morning and repaved all of their roads in 12" thick asphalt, just to make me happy. Really a welcome change.

Also, there are signs that indicate when a store has an ATM. What a concept. I know, right? Shocking. You can imagine my surprise. Almost like a civilized society.

So I'm just following Waze. Working my way down the coast. There's one place that I remember from last time. I stopped went down to the beach, and the guys down there offered to take me out in a boat. So, I got in a boat with them and we went out into the Nicoya Gulf. It was beautiful. I'd like to find that little fishing village/cove that we left form. And I think it was near Jaco.

But first, I've planned a little excursion out on this peninsula to Punta Arenas. It's a pretty cool little peninsula that just out into the Nicoya Gulf. It appears that it used to have rail service, also. I get out to the end and stop for a snow cone. Delicioso.

Then, I get back to the coast, and am rolling south, when I come to what I think is the same beach from last time. I roll my bike down onto the beach, and promptly get stuck. I have to ask the guy to come over and help push me out.

But I get the bike back on solid ground, and then I walk around. I'm pretty sure that this is the same place that I stopped last time. If not, then it looks nearly identical, anyway. It's exactly as I remembered.

Now, I get back on my bike and take off. I'm trying to ride 250 miles today.

I've re-arranged my camera equipment today, so that I'm riding with both cameras out, but they're on the harness now, instead of around my neck, which is safer, I think.

I'm rolling south, and south east. Pretty much all day long.

Some things I notice about Costa Rica:

1) There pretty much are no speed bumps any more, which is nice.

2) People have fences now. In the last few countries I went through, they would just tie a rope around the cow's/horse's neck, and let them graze on the shoulder. Plant crops in the median, etc. But here, in Costa Rica, is the first time I've really seen what I'd call "ranches", where people put up fences and graze livestock.

3) The roads are so much nicer I want to stop and kiss the asphalt.

4) I really don't see nearly the military/police presence that I've seen in the other countries

5) I saw a radar gun in use today for the first time on this trip through Central America.

In Punta Arenas, I gas up again. It's going to be dark before I get to Uvita, I think. Also, at the end of the day, it's threatening to rain.

I'm just running through this massive banana plantation for miles and miles. Like...how many bananas does one planet need? Seriously?

Now, it starts to rain. Then it stops again. But there's not much daylight left. I'm not clear that I'm going to make it to Uvita. I'm running like 80 mph and it's trying to rain. This is not good. The sun has set. And I come to this little hotel on the side of the road that says Rio Lindo Hotel. I check in and, and I'm bringing my gear in off of the bike, it starts to rain. I dodged a bullet tonight.

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 3, 2017 at 7:20 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Day 20 Photos

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 20 Photos"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 9:55 PM : Comments (4) | Permalink

Day 18 Photos

Note: Releasing these photos a couple of days late due to internet issues.

Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 18 Photos"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 7:34 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 20 [Sat 12/02/17] - Sébaco, Nicaragua to La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Punta Descartes in La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Starting Odometer: 9,697
Ending Odometer: 9,857
Distance Traveled Today: 160 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,254 miles [9,857 - 4,603]

0 miles - Sébaco, Nicaragua (2h 30 mins) 0 miles
136 miles - Sapoa, Nicaragua (3h 29mins) 136 miles
15 miles - La Cruz, Costa Rica (30 mins) 151 miles

My route today looks something like this.

In the morning, I get up and check out and roll out of Sebaco, Nicaragua. My plan today is to roll south and cross the border into Costa Rica.

So I'm rolling out of town going south on Nicaragua's Highway 1. Nice roads. Just rolling south, and then when I stop to take some photos of my bike with the Nicaragua Highway 1 sign, 3 bikes come blowing by, and 2 of them are Harleys. And they wave. I'm like...stunned. Shocked.

Like...let's be clear here.... People in the United States that ride Harleys are royal jackasses, and I hate them so much there aren't words. I had assumed that owning a Harley caused some sort of defect in the human brain that made it impossible to communicate with other humans that ride on non-Harley motorcycles. But here these two guys are. There were 3 bikes that came by, but it was 2 harleys, and they were just passing a local rider, it seems. So...2 harley riders. And, like...I promise you that I have not seen any harleys down here. They're as rare as hen's teeth.

Continue reading "Day 20 [Sat 12/02/17] - Sébaco, Nicaragua to La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 9:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Copying Files off of Garmin Montana

Only now does it dawn on me that I don't currently have any software installed on my MacBook Air to read the .gpx tracks off of my Garmin Monana. Brilliant.

I always used EasyGPS before, but that was when I was at home on my home server running Windows 7. Now, I'm on the road, running a MacBook air with OSX or something, and EasyGPS doesn't work on a Mac. Great. So....how to copy my tracks off of my Garmin?

Hmmm. I tried installing some software called LoadMyTracks, but it doesn't appear to be working. Great.

I'll start by archiving my current tracks: 2017-12-02 08:53:56. Then, it asked me to clear or cancel, and I hit cancel on the garmin. So, now I do see an archived track out there named 2017-12-02 08:53:56. Not clear how this helps me any,


Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 7:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 19 Photos

More photos in the Extended Entry.

Continue reading "Day 19 Photos"

Categories:

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2017 at 9:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink