Saturday, December 29, 2007

Back in Portland OR

Yo. It took just a few hours by plane for what took me 2 and a half months riding.

Andrea and I spent christmas on the San Blas island, with moderate weather but very interesting culture there, in the Kuna tribes. We had to take a jeep through the mudd (got stuck several times and took 6 hours for 150 km) and a canoe to reach the islands. Amazing adventure.

I am now back in portland with time to look back on what I have achieved. It has opened many doors.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

A big load of my mind : bike sold

Bye bye baby. Thanks for your help along this trip... 9300 miles.

Shipping the bike back to the US costs and awful $1200 minimum, with some crappy papers and logistics. Well, it is saved by selling the bike to an employee of the BMW dealership in Panama City. Still have some papers to do with the immigration in the next days, but still that is a big load off my mind.

I have been in Panama City for 4 days now and I have only visited the city, nothing around. i was way too busy and consumed by understanding and processing the options for the bike. Andrea joins me in 2 days and we will spend a very relaxing christmas in Panama. Maybe on the San Blas islands.

I am very much looking forward to it. We have been 3 months apart, and despite she has been my greater supporter in this adventure, it has been hard on us. time to make it up for it.

Panama City - Goal reached !!!

That´s it ! I am in Panama city ! After 9000 miles = 14000 km, I have reached my final destination.

I dont think I realize the achievement yet.

I have actually been here a couple of days already, but was to busy trying to know what to do with the bike. I have 2 options . selling it locally, or shipping it back which costs quite a bit. I cannot leave the country withut having the bike sorted, as here is a stamp on my passport saying I imigrated with a bike.

So I´m trying to sell locally, and the BMW dealership in PC is being very helpful. But I have to prepare myself to the expensive costs of shipping.

I havent visited anything yet, it will be for tomorrow. Andrea joins me on the 19th, and we will go touring here or there until we fly back on the 28th.

Yo ! Portland - Panama ! Done.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Spare Parts

Of course I left with a few spare parts. Cables, spark plugs, levers, seals, bolts and nuts, etc.

What about brake pads ? Well I did take some spare front brake pads, which I will change in Panama. But i didnt take rear ones, as I usually use only the front brake, or so little of the rear.

Miscalculation ! With the bad trails, gravel and sandy roads, I had to use the rear a lot. I actually fell once because of stupidly using the front in the sand. As a result I worn off my rear pads completely. There is not one tenth of millimeter left. It is still against steel.

No bueno.

That means I cannot touch the rear pedal or I will damage the disc. But most importantly, I will not find new pads before Panama City, end of my trip. I have another good 1000 miles before that. no big deal on the main road, but before I reach it I have roughly 200 miles of crapy trail, where the rear brake is so useful.

I will have a taste of it tomorrow as I pass the border to Panama by Sixotala. On the map the road doesnt even exist passed Boca del Toro. There is something though, hopefully not too bad.

Spicy !

Costa Rica - Cahuita

Costa Rica is very touristic, packed with Americans. As I like more natural and quiet wonders, I have been struggling to find my destinations in the country. Monteverde was a good choice, despite many tourists, but after that ?

2 main options, the pacific coast or the carribean coast. I would prefer the first one, for a change, but there is nothing really away from the crowd. I am told those places become polluted and actually not so worth it anymore. The carribean coast is probably rainy, but Cahuita sounds good, and the border crossing to Panama is known to be easier. Choice made.

Indeed, it's rainy. I got soaked wet on the way.

Cahuita is the typical laid-back carribean village, with nothing else to do but swimming or have a drink. The national park next to it is attractive. The weather turned from bad to partly sunny, and that makes me optimistic for my departure tomorrow morning.

Ants going asll the way from the top of the tree, cutting leafs, to bring them down to some gallery. impressive.

Blue crab ! The resolution is bad, it was difficult to get close.

Policia - Pay them off ?

I have been stopped by a police officer in Nicaragua, near Leon, for speeding on the wrong side of the yellow line. I suppose I got used to the mexcian habits and never lost it. The ticket was a 100 bucks total. I kindly suggested another option and he accepted 50 bucks.

This happens often in Central America. They cannot touch the cash directly from your hand, so I put it in my French driving license, which is foldable, and gave it to him. After that he was all friendly and curious about the trip, the bike etc. We shook hand and off I went.

I was warned that Costa Rica would be different, very hard to pay them off. Well, not really. I can only blame myself for another speeding. It's hard ! well this times they offered themselbes to be bought off, by suggesting that it was difficult to write a ticket under the rain. They told me that inside the police car, well protected from that rain. Got away with 29 bucks.

I hope I have learnt my lesson.

Costa Rica - Monteverde

After an awful border crossing that took 3 and half hours, and the visit of 6 different buildings, I finally made my way to Monteverde, in the highlands of Costa Rica. Only a trail to get there, but good enough for the bike.

Kagan was a couple of days behind me, loving Isla de Ometepe so much, and may decide to stay actually in Nicaragua to learn Spanish.

I realized something I wanted to do all the way long. Visit a coffee plant and follow the process. I found it in Monteverde and it was fascinating. I only filmed, so no pictures. I hope I will be able to show properly on the dvd.

After that went walking in the local Cloud forest. Saw quite a few Colibris. Those birds fascinate me. They can fly still while pumping the pollen of a flower, with an impressive wing frequency, but when they decide to go they are fast.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Nicaragua - Isla de Ometepe and San Juan del Sur

Isla de Ometepe has been formed by 2 volcanoes side to side. As I was going to take the ferry over to the island, the main volcanoe erupted 4 bashes of ashes. As we got there, ash was falling from the sky. In 2 minutes my bike and I were covered, making us astonishingly dirtier than usual.

San Juan del Sur is on the pacific side, just before the border with Costa Rica. It is very touristy, but still the beach is pleasant andthe food good and cheap. Opportunity to wash the bike...

Nicaragua - The wonderful tours of Leon

A Dutch couple, Harrie and Macha, organized fabulous tours from the hostel where we stayed. They were cultural and directly associated to Nicaragua's history. Here is the list of what we did, and some many more activities were available (not enough time)

_ visit of a new cooperative trying to grow a business of Concha Negra. It's a black shell (coquillage) sold for soups or other dishes. The blood of the mollusque is black, hence the name. 21 families are united on this project. A visit that explained a lot about the local economy and the problems they have to deal with (so different from ours).

_ local beaches and boat tour through the mangroove to spot jungle birds, crocodiles and iguanas

_ Rustler fights (combats de coqs), very popular. The rules are actually very strict and there is some knowledge behind it. It is taken seriously. Most of the time, one coq gets only hurt or we reach the end of the 15 min fight. We saw 4 fights, and we were specially treated with 3 deads (aorta cut with pissing blood or neck broken) and 1 give up (the coq chickened out...)

_ Visit through town for some local history around the corners, and visit of the fortress built to torure and let die miserably those that were supposed against the regime.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Nicaragua - Leon and Granada

Leon is full of history and we made people who organize fascinating cheap tours. That made us stay a bit longer than expected (I am writing those words from Leon). The video will show more.

The 2nd largest cathedral in Latin america is in Leon. The first one is in South America.

Granada is worth being seen as it is trully beautiful. However it has a taste of fake, simplky beacsue everything has been restaured and repainted and it now looks like a hollywood colonial town. Not much history there. Pleasant to spend the day.

Honduras - Utila Island - Diving

At the north of Honduras are the Bay Islands. We went to Utila, the cheapest to go to, where we stayed alsmost a full week. There is nothing to do there but party and dive. I was too tired to party most of the time, but as you can guess I stayed that long for diving. I had experienced diving in France a while ago, but this time I passed my certification for Open Water in a beautiful environment.

Utila is one of the cheapest places in the world to get certified, and the teaching was really good. I can now dive with a buddy down to 18 meters. I would actually love to go deeper into the thing and push the lessons for more advamced stuff, but that is time and money consuming so that will be for another time. We have a little video of our diving that I will add to our full trip dvd.

Our hotel wehere we stayed for free while diving :