Friday, April 8, 2011

Back in Moonshine

After kissing the ground, I am safely in the care of a few hundred riders here at Moonshine, Illinois. Posting from McDonald's here in Casey, IL.
The crowd here is very welcoming and jovial, growing too.
The memory of Terry Hammond is celebrated with BBQ, rides, Campfire stories, and motorcycle maintenance.
Terry's personal motorcycle items are being sold. There are walls full of this equipment to select from.
Plenty of opportunities to donate cash for the food and for charities.

The SPOT locator is no longer with me as it was returned to Joe Norris, who insisted I bring it with me on this long ride to Panama and back.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Leaving Boquete

It was a leisurely start to a day I was anxiously looking forward to for over a month. I would meet my riding partners, Gary and Jennifer, at noon at a restaurant in David, Panama. This gave me an opportunity in the morning, to stop by a few places to say goodbye to some of the friends I made,

 including Neil’s shop. I particularly wanted to thank him again for all that he has done to get me up and running again. Unfortunately Neil was not there but I did get my appreciation across to his son who helped on the repair job. He smile and bid wished for my safe return to the USA.
Everything was moving along as planned and I was enjoying riding to the David meeting point which was a bit further down the slope of Vulcan Baru so higher temperatures were expected at the lower elevations.
Gary met me at noon as planned but still had a few errands to run and Jennifer was still doing some packing. We had to stop off at the cable office to get the internet turned off in downtown David. The three of us on the two bike ready to roll outside the cable office waiting to get this last detail squared away. About 40 minutes later Jennifer came out needing to catch a cab back to the house to get the actual cable box to turn in in order to complete the deal. Gary and I sweat a bit longer.

At about 2:30 PM we finally got rolling toward the Costa Rica border. Feeling good to be moving we sailed right along for the 40 minutes it took to get to the border. Good weather and riding a motorcycle who has it better than us?
We got our passports punched out of Panama pretty quickly but Gary didn’t have a plate on his motorcycle yet since it was a new purchase so I figured he would have more difficulty getting through the Aduana paperwork. His process was very involved as he walked back and forth from one office to another window and back again several times, while I waited what seemed an eternity at the Aduana window.
I watched the lady behind the window check her computer monitor intently then disappear behind another room for maybe ten minutes then back again to the computer all the while indicating to me a confident signal that I should wait a little bit longer.
Finally, to my relief, she came out from behind her booth to check the bike numbers after which she talked to another Aduana fellow who checked my papers and showed me the problem. My vehicle permit had expired during the month I was stranded in Boquete. I indicated that I would be happy to extend it at this time but he indicated it is not possible and that I need to surrender the motorcycle keys.
Feeling about as anxious as I did when the stator burned out, I couldn’t believe he was serious about impounding my motorcycle. I could not bring myself to hand over the key to my WEE. He insisted that I must indicated the consequences with a gesture of handcuffs. I refused insisting there must be another way to handle this and that I would not give my bike away not knowing where they would take it. The situation became a standoff for a time, during which I consulted a few people about my options. Jennifer translating what she could, all the while Gary, still in a mire of bureaucracy of his own, tried to talk in my defense.
At one point I had about eight people all talking at me at the same time all with different answers to my problem. One man said I should just jump on the bike a run to the Costa Rica side of the border. That didn’t look like an option since there was a border guard three feet from my bike.
Another woman said I can call a number that she gave me and talk to the “fixer”, and woman who can “handle” these situations and get the fine reduced for a $50 fee. I took the number just in case it became necessary to utilize her services.
Overwhelmed at all the attention I was getting and yet not any closer to freedom, I began to feel faint and loose my peripheral vision. My field of view paired down to a tunnel, I slowly dropped half conscious to the ground in an attempt to protect myself from falling hard. With what was left of my consciousness I thought it best to just stay down even with the Aduana goon in my face trying to say something. It was when I heard Gary tell them I had a heart condition that things took a slight turn for the better. I finally got up but still feeling and probably looking unsteady, the Aduana goon gave me one other option as I came to understand there was no way around the impound for the expired permit.

Still dazed and amazed at the consequences of an expired permit, I was allowed to ride with the bike in the back of a small pickup truck to the David Aduana impound yard. Gary and I looked at the truck and agreed it was much to small to handle the bike as it would need to hang over the edge precariously to be carried. I said it is not possible to transport this bike in this truck even if we could get it up into the back. More standoff, eventually he compromised further and let me ride the bike following two Aduana agents in the truck back to the David impound yard. I had no choice but to take this last offer since Panamanian policy is very strict, and requires an impound when the permit expires. There is no way around it, not even cash offers.
Gary had to take Jennifer to San Jose airport for a flight to Miami for a conference and were unable to stay with me but the plan was to meet in San Jose in 24 hours as she would be back the next day. We were scheduled to leave San Jose after a three day stay anyway so it looks like it is possible to meet up again.

With strict instructions to ride slowly as I followed, we rode back the 40 minutes to David near dusk. I don’t think they wanted a foreigner having a heart attack on their watch. Too much paperwork even for these mega-bureaucrats I suppose.

The Aduana agents I was following were much more amenable and even offered to take me to a hotel of my choosing with all my gear. I only had to tell them how much I wanted to spend. They told me to be at the Aduana office in David at 9:00 AM the next day for the hearing and such.

It was a acrid feeling checking into a strange hotel in a strange city alone with all my MC gear and no motorcycle. It was all I could do to get myself out to find something to eat. It turned out I was one block from the Central Park in David so I walked around the colorfully illuminated fountain and landscaping of the square. I even chatted with three Germans who were at the border during all the drama. They were looking to ship their bikes to Colombia for a ride through South America.

I called a few friends to see what I could come up with as far as a defense for the next day when I face whoever needs to be faced. I called Anya first since she’s been such a good support during the repair. She said call Ibu, and Ibu said he would call Neil for me since he spoke better Spanish to explain the situation. Ibu also called the “fixer” from the number I had been given for her.
Ibu called me back from Panama City where he was at the time and said the fixer would make a call to the Aduana to try to smooth it over a bit but she could not show up for the 9 AM appointment.
Neil volunteered to show up at 9 AM and it turns out he knows people in the Aduana office. I felt there was hope.
To say I was concerned about the bike being in the impound yard would be too much understatement. I imagined my WEE on death row as I tried my best to get some sleep that night with little success.

The next day, I decided to leave all my gear at the hotel except the valuables while I go try to get this thing settled. I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered the bike had not been touched overnight and the staff at the Aduana was friendly. Neil showed up on time

 and the process began…but didn’t end until four hours later. Much paperwork, signing, sitting with the big man behind the big desk, who Neil happened to know, then the long wait for it to go through the legal department. It seemed interminably long but Neil stayed and was poised like he was there through it before. Neil explained to the desk man

 that the reason the bike permit expired was because of the breakdown and wait for the parts. This seemed to work pretty well since the normal fine for such heinous acts is $500 but I got off with only a $100 fine and a “don’t do it again”.
Proceedure apparently required me to surrender the key to the bike, although it was not going to be used for anything more than the paperwork process. I did this, then Neil and I went to get the gear from the hotel and were packed up and ready to roll whenever the legal department was done with my paperwork. Neil had his son bring his Honda Magna to the Aduana so he could ride with me to the border to make sure that crossing goes well the second time.
Panama procedure requires another escort to the border since I had no current vehicle permit and I had already checked out of Panama on my passport. That Aduana agent also was a friend of Neil’s and opted to escort me out of Panama via the back of Neil’s bike. That was a ride that I wish I got a picture of. We stopped at a police check point where they just waved as they knew each other and tossed a few words and a laugh as if to say “We are throwing this foreigner out”…………..
I didn’t feel up to laughing with them, not yet…..I did manage a smile J

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Csta Rica to Nicaragua

Gary, Jen, Ricardo and me rolled out of Ricardo's place in San Jose, CR at about 5:20 this morning. We had the city as a virgin day began anew. Ricardo rode with us until about 11 am through the hills and mountains of Central Costa Rica then he broke off to join with another group of riding friends.
We got to the Nic border at about 11am and took a grueling 2 hours to get into Nicaragua. I used a "helper" and Gary didn't. I had to wait an additional 20 minutes for Gary and Jen. It was a good study as to whether or not they actually speed up the process or just slow it down and make it more expensive.
The helper did try to get me for a $10 fee that was not legit so that put a black mark on his otherwise perfect performance. I gave him seven dollars total for about an hour and a half work. Pretty good pay for a Nico kid. We talked about sharing a helper for future border crossings but Gary doesn't like them because there try to take what they can get from people.

We stopped at the landing for the ferry to the twin Volcano island of Ometepe in Lago Nicaragua. Took pics ..aet mangoes and another fruit the Jen found that tastes just like honey but not as thick. Didn't get the name.

Took a wrong road heading to Leon in an attempt to avoid Managua and ended up doing some dirt riding for about a half hour at dusk.
Got to Leon at night and immediately started the hunt for accommodations.
Secure parking for the bikes is rare so it took a while to find Via Via near the center of town where they asked us to hop two curb/steps up into the restaurant where many people were eating. We rode right through a large colonial dinning area, making a few sharp turns past candle lite tables with lovers staring into our lights like deer.

The hostal has only dorm rooms at $6 per person. It is nice enough to stay an additional night but I'll have to check that with the group in the morning.
Plan was to get another pre-dawn departure to try to get into El Salvador tomorrow.  
I am beat and will sleep very soon.
Funny thing... I am not getting any more of those "I wish I were riding with you" responses that were popular on the outbound portion.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Waiting For Parts

Boquete has got to have one of the highest ratio of pool tables to population of any town I’ve been to, and even though I enjoy shooting a few games of nine ball now and then, I somehow never found time to play.

I’ve been here over a month now, three weeks of which were spent waiting for parts to come so I could get my machine running for the long ride home. All the while I wondered whether they would ever come or if they would be the right parts when they do.
I met dozens of folks here, mostly Ex-Pats from the USA and Canada, who have a very similar reply when I describe my situation, “…Plenty of worse places you could be stuck…” I can’t argue the point at all since it has just about everything a person waiting for motorcycle parts could ask for….except the parts. Always a fly in the ointment.

I have not met anyone here who didn’t express joy about living in Boquete. With such free floating feelings of contentment comes the inevitable expansion of the town population, real estate values, prices and construction. The only thing I saw for the first few days of being stuck here was the road we took to get to Mickey and Sharons house just outside town. This road is being widened to four lanes from the current two and presented no visible redeeming qualities until I moved my base of operations into the center of town after the parts were ordered. Sharon and Mickey need their privacy after a long visit by the previous guest. It was the best thing all around to get with new people, but at the time I just didn’t know that Boquete was such a travelers Mecca and that I would meet the people I need to complete a rudimentary social network.

Given that I was under the stress of dealing with a broken vehicle and an unknown quantity in Alberto Volio, who works at the San Jose Suzuki dealership, my overall experience is very similar to the showers here. They run cold, then very hot, then cold again repeatedly. I always need to make adjustment in my attitude and thinking process in order to cope with being absolutely powerless in a pretty cool place.

Along those lines, when in Rome, do as the Roman do. I talked to as many folks as possible, now and then feigning joy in their company but mostly very grateful to have people to spend time with. As you might gather from viewing the Picasa pictures, I have been surviving on keeping busy and getting with people as is becomes possible. 

The diversity of personalities and background is pretty amazing for a town of about 20,000 people.
I met a group of cruiser riders who connected me to Gary and Jennifer who are riding their Yamaha Tenere to Boston starting tomorrow. It’s quite a coincidence that the Tenere is the same bike that Terry Hammond had on order when he suddenly died back in November just after the Moonshine Rally.

I was able to take nice check out ride up to the Rio Sereno border crossing yesterday. On that ride I met more riders who live in David and talked about a couple who were riding to Boston soon. It turned out to be Gary and Jen who I am riding with. “The world is small…” he said.
I’ll ride out of Boquete tomorrow and meet Gary and Jennifer at noon. We’ll cross into Costa Rica and spend the night with their friends in San Jose. Jennifer needs to fly to a seminar in Florida and will be back in 24 hours.

I am on the edge of my seat with anticipation as to how this will turn out. Thanks to all the positive energy coming from you folks back home, and the STOC TAG book inscriptions, it is turning out well so far.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

OK, I'm getting calls from some folks wondering what's up. I was holding off until I had some good news to report.
Neil installed the new stator in the WEE and the voltage is 14.5.
This is what I should be seeing  so there it is...some GOOD NEWS!

More good news is I now have riding partners who are heading to Boston two up on a Yamaha Tenere 1200.
Gary and Jennifer are traveling north with a similar itinerary and we agree it looks like we'll have fun hanging together.

pics are updated here:

More soon!

Friday, February 18, 2011


We overnighted in Panama City and met a couple of guys on a KTM and a BMW 800 who were going to Argentina and were staying in a nearby hostel. Their spirits were very high with the hope of booking passage on the 40 meter schooner, Stahlratte,org to Colombia, my dream trip.
I was set to thinking after receiving a phone call from Kris Nijs, a friend of mine living in Lima, Peru who rode for four contiguous years around the world on an ST1100 Pan European. He suggested riding to Lima, then fly the bike back. Excited by the prospect, I asked him to check out prices from Lima to LA with the bike. I even found a space on the Stahlratte for the bike but not for me. I would have had to take a smaller boat or a plane. Kris call me back and had a price from LAN Airlines of $7,000 or 8,000 USD, so that idea was out the window. It has to do with a Homeland security category called “Dangerous Goods”
The kids from the hostel would have to sail the high seas on their own. Best of luck to them.

The three of us rode toward the Darien Gap out of curiosity, mostly Valerii’s interest in whether or not he should make the overland crossing attempt on his bike against all warnings that it is “not recommended”.
He took the advice and started a search for a boat to Colombia. The road to the Darien was rough and not particularly pretty so we turned around at a deserted point and got some nice pictures of the bikes lined up in the middle of a long straight section of the road.
Ulli and me then made our way up to beautiful Portobelo on the Carib side while Val searched for tires in Panama City. Val met us later after an unsuccessful tire hunt. Portobelo was great, so relaxing and scenic with islands out over the water to stir the curiosity. Ulli did SCUBA and I snorkeled the local waters near our hotel. The only fly in the ointment, other than the no-see-em’s, was that the staff of the hotel did not smile much at all and in some cases they were a bit curt. It may be a cultural thing related to the local tribe of Spanish speaking blacks that are numerous there. They may be ambivalent about the tourist money flowing freely there driving prices up for the locals.
One thing for sure, the town really gets a loud party atmosphere on Saturday night with even the local busses looking like rolling discothèques, pumping out their own beat and lightshow.

This is also one of the towns where one would find a captain and a boat to Colombia. There are unseen lines to cross though. As far as we gathered, there are certain captains that get recommended by certain hostals and even towns in the area. The Captain we talked to in “Captain Jacks Bar” was three sheets to the wind by 8 PM but I asked questions anyway. He told us in detail how to secure a bike on the deck and how to protect it from salt water. Four point ratchet down the suspension, spray the entire* bike with a can of WD40, then wrap it with Saran wrap completely. Well that’s what he said anyway.

We said goodbye to our riding brother, Valerii, who went on his own to seek a captain and find out about customs and immigration related to taking a boat to Colombia while making his way south to Argentina.

Ulli and I rode out toward Costa Rica getting a visit in at the famous Mira Flores Locks as it opened for visitors at 9:00AM. Very impressive to watch the big ships float on through past the visitors center.

As Ulli and I rolled care free toward my friends in Boquete, near the Costa Rica border, we were abruptly stopped at a protest march on the Pan American Highway. Apparently, from what we could gather, it is the indigenous tribes protesting the government plans for strip mining their land for gold and copper without much in the way of compensation for the devastation and pollution it would cause. That first protest set us back an hour and a half. Then after rolling out of that, about an hour later we got stopped at another one where someone said shots were fired. Both had a heavy police presence including riot brigades with full gear.

Now we are about 2.5 hours behind and this put us into a heavy rain downpour during the last 20 KM to Boquete. It was during the deluge that I noticed the Datel voltage readout standing at about 11 volts. I brought the electrical demand to bones minimum but didn't want to pull over because I may not make it on the electrons left in the battery and there was no cover from the rain.

Well, we made it to Sharon and Mickeys house OK, but when I shut the bike down it did not have enough to start again.
The terminals were a little loose and there was some corrosion. I cleaned that up and charged the battery on Mickeys car charger. Everything back in and without all the farkle wires on the battery, the bike started but only shows 12.5 or so with a few tenths increase with revving the engine.

Right now I have the charged battery disconnected and I'll see if it holds the 12.7 it currently has by the morning. (It does)
Two days later I had the right mechanic, Neil, who made a house call to the bike with a pile of tools.
The alternator had a burned section with a broken wire. Parts are on order from Costa Rica and may take 5 to 7 days according to the general manager at Moto-Suzuki in San Jose, CR. Nothing to do now but sit back and try to enjoy Panama. I took a room in a hostel in Boquete in order to give some privacy back to Sharon and Mickey. This was a good move and gave me an opportunity to take in the local day to day life in the area. I met several interesting English speaking travelers. One was BC fellow riding a V-Strom 1000 south to meet to where he will be taken to Cartagena on his way to his home country of Brazil. We shared a couple of meals together before he mounted up and rode off to Panama City.

Kathleen, a resident of Marin County, CA was at the second hostel that I stayed at and is traveling Panama with her 3 year old adopted Guatemalan son, Jade. We shared a few meals and did a bit of touring together. Jade made a few friends with local kids so a couple of our meals turned out to be draped with hungry kids, their parents were nowhere to be found.

Ken, from BC is a retired longshoreman and an avid traveler with extensive knowledge about the world and Panama particularly. I met him in a coffee shop. We rode in his rental car up to the Carib coast and Bocas del Toro, a great little community on the Island of Colon. The ride was slow and we needed to stop often to ask for directions and take pictures of the impressive mountains and rivers. Ken likes to stay about 20KPH under the speed limit so the brakes in his rental got a real workout in the mountain hills and turns on the way to Bocas, which is as good a place as any to wait for my parts to come in.

While in Bocas, I got word from the site that BC riders Fred and Larry are in town but heading north soon. I met with them for breakfast where we shared Central American motorcycle travel info and news. They wished I were up and running so I could travel with them and I felt the same way, but without the stator failure, I would not have met them at all. They told me they plan to be in Cancun for a week in March, if I am in the area I should visit. It was a meal for the soul as well as the body. I appreciate people more now I am in such a vulnerable position.

It’s been lazy days of eating, yoga classes and lounging in Bocas del Toro. We took a free tour of the Smithsonian Institute Lab here on the island where they do valuable research on environmental concerns in the waters and land.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Honduras, Nicaragua

Val and I were amazed at the bureaucratic gridlock at the border from Guatemala to Honduras up by Copan. We felt encouraged falsely by the speed at which we got both our bikes and our selves checked out of Guatemala, about 15 minutes. Shortly after that we had our selves checked into Honduras. The rest of the six hours we spent at the border was only for the last step, to check the bikes into Honduras. We never were sure why it took so long but it sure seemed like the big man in charge of this process was toying with us. When it was my turn to sit in the office with him, he slowly removed his sunglasses as if to say, “we’ll be here a while”. He looked at my passport and said “Ahh, Italianiano” Then pronounced my name wrong but close so I complimented his getting it right. He smirked, and slowly moved my passport to a point almost a full arms reach to his right, then tossed it down at the last moment.
He never asked me for and “fees” that were not receipted, but I got the impression things would have gone faster if there were a $20 bill inside the passport.
He only spoke Spanish and with what I understood I proceeded to go through a merry go round of making copies, paying the bank, and going back to the big guy for stamps.
…Then the computers died and everyone was waiting for three hours for them to come back up.
Anyway, long story short, the amount of aggravation we endured seemed to correlate to the amount of freedom we felt once we were at our first stop at Copan Ruins.
Nearly starved we first needed to eat and while waiting for our burritos I went next door to see if there is a room available at the hotel. Nice place, $20 USD converted after her asking price of $22.
A fellow in the street said he had a room for $20 but we said no gracias. “OK fifteen” ! Again we said no just because he was soliciting us like a time share salesman. As we walked away he said “$10” and at that Val thought we should at least go with him to check it out. I agreed and when we saw what he had for the money, that’s where we stayed for two nights while we checked out the Copan Ruins and the great little town.
We met Pete in the hotel , he has been spending as much time in Honduras as his job back in Philly would allow. He said, “If you’ve been to Chitzen Itza or Tikal you’ll be disappointed in Copan” and to a point he’s right in that they are not as tall, but as I recall Chitzen Itza did not have as many large sculptures still mostly intact and on display.
The ruins were an interesting walk around the old rocks and sculptures. I imagine the things that went on at the site and the way people lived before Columbus came.
The ride out of Copan was in showers but still fun in the twists and turns of the Honduran mountains in the north.
The roads were mostly good in the non-construction areas and the detours for road repair were usually short and sweet, a few hundred meters of rocks and mud …just the right off road for the WEE.
Almost everyone we encountered was either friendly to us or neutral in expression, apparently treating us as they would anyone else.
The Honduras/Nicaragua border was better at about 1.5 hours of morasses. We stopped for lunch in a medium sized town not to far from the border where we found a burger wagon at the park centro. While eating the huge double cheese burger that Val ordered for me while I used the pay bathroom ( 30 cents).
There was a down and out looking man who was standing less than seven feet from us while eyeing me when he thought I wouldn’t notice. I thought he was going to ask me for money but instead he just stood there wobbling a bit from the hip bottle he gulped every few minutes. I guess we all knew I wasn’t going to finish that burger and when I couldn’t eat another bite, I offered the remains to this poor guy. He took it without hesitation and walk swiftly off into the crowds like he had the winning lottery ticket. I was hit with a wave of gratitude for all the luxury problems I complain about routinely.
While at a bank to get cash, we meet a great guy who gave us good information and even invited us into his house to get a copy of a map. He learned English in the States and spoke it well. I set a way point in case I was through that area on the way back north.
That night we made it into Granada and began a haphazard search for a place to put the tents. At Lago Granada there were places that looked good for tenting but were warned intently that it is “not recommended” so we took an inexpensive hotel that was apparently in a section of town that was dangerous to outsiders after 11PM unless we took a cab. Val and I agreed we didn’t like the ambiance in Nicaragua so we made a fast getaway the next morning after taking a few pictures of the historic colonial town architecture.
While making a dash for the Costa Rica border, Val hit a pretty good sized rock with his front tire which caused a sudden deflation and loss of control. I didn’t see it as I was in the lead but when I got back to him he was all exclamation points about almost getting killed, flailing his hands describing the incident.
While discussing our options, which were few after examining his front tire and tube, Ulli rode to a stop just in front of us. Ulli is a German fellow on a Yamaha XT 600 and just happened to have the same size front tube in his pack. He was very helpful in getting us up and running again and he was happy that we invited him to ride with us to Panama. So the Ukrainian riding around the world, the German on a four week holiday adventure tour, and the New Yorker ride off slowly south to favor the damaged tire on Vals bike.
An hour or so past the Costa Rican border, we cut west to the Pacific and found a perfect free camp site at a fishing boat dock on an inlet. Ulli was not equipped for camping so Val and I flipped a coin. Ulli was a perfect gentleman sharing my little four by eight tent. “We are family now“, I said. The German and the Ukrainian laughed at that idea. “You’ll see” I said.
The Pan American Highway to San Jose is pretty flat until it starts to climb the mountains just before the city. It got cool and was twisty until we hit into the city traffic. I led using GPS to Ulli’s contact “Wild Riders Moto Adventures” where he knew the owner, a German guy. The owner referred us to a hostal a few blocks away that had secure parking at about $15 each for the night with internet.
Next day we toured the sites of San Jose and Val bought a 300+ gigabyte hard drive for his pictures and videos. That afternoon we rode over to Ulli’s friend and fellow German, Freddy in the town of Orozi, just southeast of Cartago where we had a nice visit and tour of his Moto Adventure Tour company. He also gave us a good referral to a hostal close by at about $8 each for the three of us in one room. We all had a great dinner together.
Out of Orozi at about 8AM we rode into the majestic and misty highlands on the way to the retirement hotspot, Boquete, Panama where Sharon and Mickey are waiting for us. My friend Steve referred me to them and it turned out to be a great visit after we finally found the place. They just love living in Panama, and only need about $1,000 per month to live well, and that is with heath care, maid service and yard service. They had a guest, Lisa Rogak, the author of forty books including, “Death Warmed Over” and “A Boy Named Shel”.
It was an interesting evening even after the stimulating conversation was over and everyone found a place to sleep.
The house has a metal roof and it is the windy season in Panama so I had images of sleeping on an old ship with all the creaking and clapping sounds.
It was Friday the 4th of February the next day, when I finally saw the Bridge of the Americas over the waterway that leads from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea. It was a long road to get there so no surprise I was a bit emotional about attaining my goal. A tear tinted time to celebrate the view of the boats waiting to traverse the isthmus from one ocean to another while navigating the flow of traffic in the right lane and snapping a few haphazard pictures.

Pics at

Monday, February 7, 2011

Portabelo to Boquete

In Lew of the mega update that is in the works I just wanna tell ya about yesterday and today.
Ulli and I said good bye to Val yesterday as he rode off to find a boat to Colombia and points south.
I entertained the idea of taking a boat with him after I got a call from my buddy, Kris Nijs, in Lima, Peru. Kris did a RTW trip from 1999 to 2003. Kris is on my Email update list so he knew I was closer to him than I am from home. We talked a while and he said I could fly the bike and myself back to the USA from Lima. Then we found out that the only airline that Kris found that would do it had a price of between 7 and $8,000 USD. That idea was squashed and so Ulli and I rode out toward Costa Rica getting a visit in at the famous Mira Flores Locks as the opened for visitors at 9:00AM. Very impressive to watch the big ships float on through past the visitors center. Pics on the way...
As Ulli and I rolled care free toward my friends in Boquete, near the Costa Rica border, we rolled to a stop at a protest march on the Pan American Highway. Apparently, from was we could gather, it is the the indigenous tribes protesting the government plans for their land. That first protest set us back an hour and a half. Then after rolling out of that, about an hour later we got stopped at another one where someone said shots were fired. Both had a heavy police presence including riot brigades with full gear.
now we are about 2.5 hours behind and this put us into a heavy rain downpour and the last 20 KM to Boquete. It was during the deluge that I noticed the Datel voltage readout standing at about 11 volts. I brought the Electrical demand to bones minimum but didn't want to pull over because I may not make it on the electrons left in the battery and there was no cover from the rain.
Well, We made it to Sharon and Mickeys house OK, but when I shut the bike down it did not have enough to start again.
The terminals were a little loose and there was some corrosion. I cleaned that up and charged the battery on Mickeys car charger. everything back in and without all the farkle wires on the battery, the bike started but only shows 12.5 or so with a few tenths increase with reving the engine.
Right now I have the charged battery disconnected and I'll see if it holds the 12.7 it currently has by the morning.
Hope it's not the alternator...anyone know the check to see if it is? I thought if there is a slight increase in voltage with reving that it might not be but I am not sure.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Antigua, MX to Copan, Honduras

Pics are up from Antigua, Guatemala to Copan, Honduras.  See below Picasa link.

Valerii Krishen crossed the border that George, Steve and I decided not to cross back in April at Frontera Echeverria (Corizal), MX but in the opposite (Eastern) direction so he didn't see the worst of it until the boat ride with MC in it was over.
His website is:
It has an English link in the upper right

Thursday, January 27, 2011

New riding partner

Carlos's couples ride was surprisingly super sonic in all conditions. Uncomfortably so.
Valerii Kryshen, who we met at the BMW dealership where we were spending the day getting Carlos's 1200GS rear drive fixed, was changing oil and his front tire on his Honda Africa Twin while on his RTW (round the world) tour.
We both saw no need to try to keep up with crazy fast riders, two up no less, and the two of us found good riding partners in eachother. We took a more liesurely pace to the same border crossing to Honduras that the couples took and when we got there, they were waiting around for the wheels of the Honduran bureaucracy to turn. They were a day behind on a schedule of two weeks and had women to answer to so they did not feel offended that we did not keep up their pace. Doris, Carlos wife, said if she were driving she would go faster.

After being released from an eternity (over six hours) of running for copies, waiting on lines, paying the bank...TWICE...  and computer malfunctions, Val and I rode off Men...
Euphoric, we stopped in Copan town to check out the restaurants and discuss the plan for the evening accommodations. While waiting for our burritos, I looked at the hotel next door, nice place, nice lady, got it to $20 from $22 for both of us. Then we were informed of a place just up the street and his price came from $20 to $15 but we still wanted the first place so it came down to $10.
It is where I type now on a very good Wi Fi connection and secure parking...the laundry is already in the machine. Showered and still drying our evening plan is to get Lempira from the ATM and check out the town.
The ruins of Copan's the plan for the AM with a free ride from the Hotel manager. Tuck Tuck would be under $1 one way. We rolled a seven on La Hotel Marjenny.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

San Cristobal, MX to Antigua, Guatemala

1/21 Day 2 in San Cristobal, MX:
Got in touch with Mauricio via email and set a meeting for the next day, then talked to a couple of long distance style MC riders downtown. From what I could gather, they said there was motorcycle convention in town the next day, so I thought it would be nice if Mauricio comes that same day. I am staying an additional day to take these events in and I am looking forward to the company.
Went for a café con leche and took some pictures around town, including the massive market area up in the hilly part of town.
All while waiting with anticipation for Day 3.

1/22 Day 3 in San Cristobal, MX:
No contact with Mauricio and I could not find any Motorcycle Convention. I fell into another wave of homesickness or maybe just “fish out of water” feelings that I thought I would not be able to shake. I considered a northbound route for the next day without knowing what else to do. I spent a bit of quiet time in the hotel room that afternoon to consider the darkest of scenarios, maybe something happened to Mauricio on the way over and he was unable to contact me. Maybe I misunderstood the riders Spanish about the rally and the convention was the next day, or maybe just outside of town due possibly to the large numbers of bikes that may be expected.
I didn’t know and I was in an unshakable funk, I turned the movie channel on… just at the opening credits for Wuthering Heights. About halfway through, I was about ready to cut my wrists, metaphorically of course.
I did enjoy the English country dancing scene, however.
About the time Kathy tells Heathcliff “…don’t say to me you love me, for it would destroy me …“
I turned the TV off tossed down the remote and bolted out of the hotel toward downtown. Two blocks later I noticed about eight big LD duelsport bikes outside a restaurant, one of which I recognized from the day before. I grabbed a couple of pictures and went inside. There were at least twice the number of riders than bikes and they had an entire room to themselves.
Seeing all those conversations in Spanish among so many strangers to me, did little to boost my fallen spirit even though I knew I had to introduce myself at some point, simply because it would be out of character if I didn’t. Apparently unnoticed, I stepped outside again to consider a strategy.

I walked around the block thinking I would catch everyone mounting up to leave but by the time I got back there they were just cracking open more tequila bottles and clicking shot glasses together. I make my move.
To the fellow nearest me … “I hear a few of you came from a long way to get here, can I get your signature in my travel book”?
“Sure, I’ll sign. Where are you from”? He struggled to enunciate in English.
Feeling not only relieved he understood the question but a complete turnaround occurred in the entire room shortly after the answer “I rode down from New York City”

The Boyz have come through for me again. Gonna miss them at the handoff at Mooshine, Illinois, in April. They provided me with my opening, I latter explained fully about the fallen riders and the purpose of the TAG.
It turns out there was a class held by a Guatemalan riding instructor, Raul Toledo, who I was introduced to in less than five minutes and five signatures later. Raul wrote a small book called “Moto Tips” and was holding court explaining riding techniques with words and gestures as well as selling and signing his book. He signed and gave a copy to me, and I expressed a deep appreciation. The faces at that table were riveted to his every word and I assumed they all knew each other. But I later found that they had only been in contact, but never met him until he was invited to hold this class.
I got about six pages in the STOC TAG book filled with Mexican and Guatemalan riders, pictures, a few invites to come stay over, and an offer to ride with Rauls group over to the border with Guatemala the next day. Also Carlos, a San Cristobal resident, offered for me to tag along on a prearranged ride through Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador over the course of about 10 days starting the 26th of January.
All this with only a bit of disappointment from a few that I would not allow them to pour me a drink. I didn’t say a word about drinking and riding but was aghast that these guys were mostly going to ride after this, albeit a very short distance for the most part.
About half of them drove to the restaurant in cars donning there riding gear and I can only assume it’s because they knew they’d be drinking but I didn’t ask.
After about an hour of celebrity, fourteen signatures, and a half hour of Raul explaining riding techniques and a quite a bit of shot glass toasts I said I would be happy to travel with Raul and his class the next day. I excused myself and said I needed to go get a few things packed to be ready at 8:00AM.
Once out on the street, I opened an email from Mauricio. He apologized profusely about not showing up and said something came up in the family, that I should be certain to stop by again on the way north, “Please Please” Meanwhile, I have another solid contact in Mauricio’s city of Tuxla Gutierrez, Jose Antonio Olguin Ruiz. Maybe I can introduce them to each other at a meal. Their was another rider who said he knows Mauricio after I described his Harley.

1/23 Day 4 in San Cristobal, MX:
Now I feel my heart soaring. I can’t sleep past 4:00AM so I am up getting ready for the southbound ride. I am packed and ready to roll before the hotel doors are unlocked. The attendant heard the WEE engine and threw open the gates. I roll down the steep drive out onto the streets of a virgin Sunday at 7:00 AM in search of coffee and breakfast. I stop at a stand in the plaza area under one of the churches where I enjoy a hot cup of joe and a tamale, $1.
A young couple with full backpacks walk over to me and then I recognize them as Nora and Vincent, the couple who signed the book on the beach back at Mazunte.
They had just stepped off the bus and were looking for a particular hostel that is apparently hard to find.
They looked pretty ready for a bed at that point, but it was great seeing them and enjoying a breakfast together.
The meeting and departure was late. I guess we can blame the tequila for that. Raul is riding a 20 HP 150cc Yamaha race bike and has be showing riding techniques to guys riding big beemers. While on the road to Guatemala, Raul, surprised me with his ability to stay with everyone on the straights and do very well in the turns. I would not have ridden as fast as that group if I were alone. The topes were all over, even in the turns so it was a spirited ride for me.
At the border it was just me and Raul after everyone broke off. We met a 20 something Wyoming rider, Cyrus, on a dirt bike and we decided to wait for him to get checked in so we can ride as three. The border crossing was uneventful with not even one “helper” solicitation. I just snapped a few pics including the money changers dealing with Raul.

We had a bit of fun running into deepest Guatemala together mostly led by Raul, the local. Cyrus was quite a character with enthusiasm about many ideas for bike accessories but didn’t have a working center or side stand because of an unplanned get off on an unpaved road. He did have plenty of broken things on his unique bike though.
At the lunch stop he hopped his bike up onto a walkway of the kfc style chicken fast food chain and in a very upright position and in gear leaned the left hand grip gently against the plate glass window. The local security guy asked him very nicely to put it exactly where I already suggested, up against a short concrete wall. He obliged without hesitation.
His bike shares many of the same parts as some KTM’s but I forgot the name of his bike. He claimed to have a drinking water reservoir in the swing arm, and he uses it with a bite valve. Raul thought he was a dreamer, enthusiastic but not in the real world. We both agreed he was crazy. Smiled a lot though.

We exchange email then Cyrus broke off to meet people in Panjachel. Raul and I were still making headway toward Guatemala City where he lives. We rode through the high mountain darkness after we stopped for bowls of hot soup to warm us. At one point we were riding with about 30 feet of visibility while in a cloud at between 9 and 10 thousand feet elevation. There were many landslide remains along that road and both directions of traffic had to share half the road many times. Other than that, the mountains and countryside is dangerously pretty, but don’t look to long, something is always lurking around that turn that’ll need a riders full attention. An emaciated dog wandering through traffic aimlessly apparently asking everyone “Please kill me”

I got to tour Guatemala City after hours on a Sunday evening so the traffic was barely detectable. I was surprised at how neat the streets were, trash free, at least on CA 1 through the city. Took us about 20 minutes to come all the way through the entire city on a major freeway. The next day will be a different story when I back track through the same way we came in only in rush hour traffic.
I enjoyed the company of Rauls two children who both speak English and were very polite and hospitable. The dogs, Mocha and Chachi were very curious but friendly. His son Daniele, is a 600cc super bike racer and has many trophies as does his father Raul. Daniel is learning Japanese and wants to go into international business. He’ll do well.
I felt like I borrowed a family. Felt good.

1/24 Day 1 in Antigua, Guatemala:
Raul warned about the rush hour in Guatemala City. We rolled out of his gated community, he on the 150, me on the WEE. While on his way to work, he wanted to lead me at least part of the way toward Antigua along the route that was such a pleasure to ride the night before and is now jammed with busses, cars trucks and is very smoky with exhaust fumes. Except for the fumes, the hour or so it took to backtrack through town was no worse than what I have been used to in NYC, although that is not saying much.
Antigua is a historic colonial town with thick walled buildings lining all of the streets which are paved with cobble stone. The giant market is a must see. Bring your negotiating skills. The chain eateries are in town but it’s funny to see a McDonalds or Subway with three foot thick walls keeping the character of the towns historic buildings.

Today I get a chance to update this ride story while waiting for Carlos and his couples group to show up later. Hope I don’t feel like a fifth wheel on the next leg of this trip though Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

More pics at :

Friday, January 21, 2011

Mazunte to San Cristobel

The 326 miles from Zehuatenejo to Pinotepic Nacional on my way to Puerto Escondido was more tiring than the 368 miles from Mazunte to San Cristobel, MX. The little towns and topes wear not only on the brake pads, tires and shocks but on the rider as well.
With a strong suggestion from Robert my masseuse in Puerto, I headed to the tiny hippy and local Mexican town, Mazunte, on the south facing Pacific coast.
I planned to stop only for breakfast, but got attached to the place very fast.
While trying to establish a room on the beach, Larry came suddenly popping up and asked me “Do you understand what he just said?”
I don’t think there is a window made with glass in the entire town so conversations are easily overheard from within a home and that’s how Larry heard me struggling with the little Spanish I had and the total lack of English the owner had.
$200 pesos (~ $18 USD at 12 to 1) for a basic room. No hot water, towel, mats, soap, etc. flush the toilet with a bucket of water obtained from a bigger bucket under the shower pipe w/o a head, but mosquito nets ARE included and needed. The room has a very nice tiled balcony overlooking an absolutely gorgeous view. (see Picasa pics) Mexico is a land of extremes.
The young people are into the usual things hippies do on a beach including acrobatic flips, paddle ball, soccer, topless sunning, mimicking martial arts and of course pot smoking and beer drinking. They are a wide variety of personalities and abilities to return a smile probably because in some there is initial layer of cautiousness that needs to be disarmed with a more powerful smile and hola… or not. Either way is OK.
Larry is a former eighteen wheel truck driver from Kentucky and is holed up with his son Sean. He cooks with a solar collector cooker which apparently gets up to 300 degrees F.
Russel is staying under Larry and Sean in the structure adjacent mine and is adamant about not calling him Russ as he snapped at Larry jamming his finger into the table repeatedly. He is running from something in the states, is trying to quit smoking but always has a liter of beer opened and is very broke. He had initial trepidations maybe even hostility about my being from NYC. I asked him about it and he denied it nervously stating “Ya, you’re from NY but you’ll fit right in here.”
Started the next day with a 9:00AM yoga class which Russel told me strongly was at 11AM and at a different location. After class he said he wished he could have gone to that….what can I say? He is starting to soften.
Later, Sean and I are in the surf chatting when BANG! Mid sentence, I get an extremely sharp biting pain in the front right quadrant of my right foot. Sean looked at it and confirmed blood flow and an almost inch long blue discoloration running up into the side of my foot. He thought it might be a Stingray and said they could be poisonous. Along comes Larry at the moment I am thinking, should I just relax and see if I get dizzy. Larry duck taped an onion slice to the wound in case it was a venomous sting, then took me to the local clinic in his truck.
Still in pain, the clinician put boiling water in a bucket and told Larry to tell me to add my foot. Hot as I can stand it is best, adding cool water to temper the heat to tolerable.
This helped a lot. Then I got an anti- inflammatory shot in the butt. They see up to 10 ray stings a day at high season and was certain there was no chance of infection. I don’t know how he knows that but he was certain.
All in all a very worthwhile visit and for no obligatory fee but they do accept donations. My 200 paso note was much appreciated and Larry confirmed it was a very nice gesture. Even insisted Larry take a 200 note for gas and truck expenses. He needed convincing that the money will go to a good cause if he takes it
Back at base camp Russel was aghast that I got stung within the first 24 hours at Mazunte. He was softening further and by that night he was signing the TAG book with four letter words about NY but maybe there are a few NY’er that are palatable. We shook hands goodbye as I planned to leave the next day.
Nice that he accepted me eventually.
Packed up and ready to roll at about 7AM Larry, alerted by my repositioning the WEE for departure, came down to see me off with route advice and a map.
Even brought me coffee and a bowl of fruit with yogurt. 20 minutes later I am off on the road again and the biggest ride day in Mexico to date. I’m going inland to San Cristobel.
The ride combines twists with dusty towns and topes, gabrage burning on the side of the road that chokes the lungs, then some breath taking mountain roads with dangerous curves and nobody else anywhere. Spooky pretty. Hot between about 10 AM and 3 PM then cool in the mountains northeast of Salina Cruz.
Mexico is a land of extremes.
Then there is the toll road or Cuota around Salina Cruz which, thank God, we had figured out a bit on the George/Steve Belize ride back in April. It is invisible to the Mexico maps on my Zumo. It comes across a very windy section that not only did we experience in April but Larry warned me about before I left him. It was not as bad as it was in April but most of the wind generators in the miles long farm were turning pretty well.
Just after the windy section I stopped for lunch at a noisy but good and friendly roadside joint where my request for Tacos Pescadores got me a bunch reply syllables that I just nodded “si’ to.
While I waited for lunch, I set the bike up on the center stand to do a chain lube but the back end was down a slope causing the rear wheel to tip to the ground preventing me from rotating it. Seeing that I was trying to get it so I could elevate the rear wheel by tipping the front downward, a fellow stepped up and offered to hold the front down while I squirt lube of the chain. I thought that was really nice and it reminds me of the line “I’ve come to depend on the kindness of strangers” Was the from “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”?
A whole fried fish arrived with tortillas and pretty much looked like what everyone else was having so I faked like I knew what I was doing and assembled my own fish tacos. Quite good actually, after all the careful work to make sure no hidden bones try to lodge themselves in my throat.
Coming through Tuxla Gutierrez I stopped to see if I could get in touch with Mauricio Garcia, a fellow rider who we met in San Cristobel back in April while returning from Belize, but no luck. I was texting with him right up until my Blackberry broke and now, without his phone number, I continue to wait for even one reply on Email. I may not have his correct address. Oh well. (Update: Mauicio will come tomorrow and it turns out there is apparently a MC rally here tomorrow, Oh boy! Just booked an extra night)
San Cristobel is a colorful and vibrant historic city with travelers from all over lingering and passing through. The trip back from Belize through here was too short and I am happy to be able to spend a couple of days here now.
In the town center, I spoke a while with a solo traveler from Italy attending a Spanish school just on the edge of town. He is learning one on one with a teacher for three separate hours a day and says he enjoys it. Cost is about $150 USD for the week and includes dance and cooking lessons. We agreed the price is even lower in Guatemala.
Be careful walking in town though, as there is uneven sidewalks and streets all over and steps lurking, waiting to jump up and trip even a cautious pedestrian. A woman with crutches and a new cast is a reminder.
I am still reverberating from maybe a combination of culture shock and homesickness or babe in the woods feelings. It’s like boot camp for long term traveling. Invigorating and exhausting at the same time.
Mexico is a land of extremes…

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Puerto Escondido

I got up at about 7 AM this morning, about the same time Mathew, one of my two Swiss twenty something roommates came back from a long night of partying.  Christian showed up as I was starting to check E-mail by the palm lined pool at the Hotel Rockaway in Puerto Escondido. Still quite tipsy and in a very good mood, he tried to explain what he could of his evening. From what I gathered, I would never have made it through unless I add 25 years more youth.
Here I meet Christian, Mathew, who offered a bed to me in thier four bed room. Leah is the surfer in this group. I was surprised to find that Chris and Mathew were NOT surfers. I mean, just look at them:

A few days ago I got to Puerto Escondido after a grueling but otherwise enjoyable 326 mile day from Zehuatenajo on the heals of the dozens of killings in and around Acapulco a couple of days prior.
To avoid the traffic and noisy confusing streets in Acapulco, I rode around to the north where military check points were on high alert. At one check point, I had the treat of a full body pat down and every storage bag on the bike searched for weapons or drugs. After a few friendly questions about my bike and trip, they smiled, Adios.
I thanked them for keeping us safe from the bad guys and went to lunch down the road.
A few kilometers later  I stopped for lunch and was invited to join a family celebrating their daughters (2nd from left) 17th birthday at the road side restaurant. Boy were they excited about the big ride from New York.
The fellow on the far right enouraged me to come stay at the Princess Hotel on the Acapulco strip where he is a doorman.
“…Yes, the one John Wayne stayed in…”

Though George, Steve and I were here in Puerto Escondido back in April, we did not spend the time that was needed to get a good feel for the place.

Now it’s hard to leave.

Local hooligans of PE
A band and dance at our hotel
Baby Sea turtle release day

There is a good mix of ages and nationalities. The largest outsider group is apparently Canadian and many of the snowbirds and permanent residents are retired people who are evidently feeling relaxed about there appearance, looking like well tanned Albert Einsteins in sacklike muscle shirts with beer bellies.
There is plenty for the youngsters of all ages here, though. As shown here the kids are all having fun:

                                                                      A water safety class being held at the pool at our hotel:
More pics:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Greetings from Playa la Ropa near Zehuatanejo, Mexico, a cool beach on the Mexican Riviera where I stayed three nights over six years ago. They apparently fenced the Cocodrillo (crocodile) so the can’t just meander around socializing with the Canadians.

The beach here seems to be losing some sand to the wave action of the Pacific. Some of the structures are already getting a licking from the surf.
The prices are up a bit as one would expect but other than that still a great place if you like moderate to fancy accommodations.
A cruse ship was anchored just a tad bit off the beach taking up a good percentage of the view and was leaving as I pulled in. A very relaxing place and perfect for spoiling me. It’s getting more and more difficult to up root myself and move on to the next location. Laziness is setting in and there is a hammock everywhere you look to accommodate that state of mind. A walk in the silky soft sand is the perfect foot massage and defoliant.

The news of the violent killings in Acapulco is a fly in the ointment and I am sad for all those affected. I would like to have that city behind me but I see no rush to do so. Never liked the city, too busy and obnoxious with it’s very confusing street patterns and constant horn blaring from taxis. Great bay though, very beautiful from almost any angle but in my opinion, the highlands at the south side is the one to see.

More pickies here

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Barra de Navidad, MX

I don't know why they have two valves for the water in Mexico. The temperature difference between them is non detectable.
Even the fancy pants Hotel Belair in Puerto Vallarta had little or no hot water most of the time.
The ride south to Barra de Navidad got off to an exciting start when I got caught in the lobster trap of steep cobblestone side roads in the highlands of PV. When cobblestone turned to a narrow dirt alley I knew I needed a "U" turn. If JoAnn were their navigating, she would have said “just keep going”!
In the process of coming about and while perpendicular to traffic direction, I was feeling the need for a few less inches of seat height when my left toes, being on the downhill side were suddenly assigned full responsibility for keeping the left listing bike from going over on the rough slippery cobbles. What seemed like 10 seconds was enough time to get things sorted and all for the small price of a pulled calf muscle in my left leg.
We had such a good time in PV, I didn’t want to leave but I always say that and always find another idyllic spot up the road a piece.

Mostly great twisties and scenic, the road to Barra de Navidid was uneventful unless you count literally running into a flock of Black Birds, Crows or Ravens an event.
Two large black birds in a flock flapped into my flight path, one careened off the top edge of the wind screen and the other less than a second later got a wingful of the forehead portion of my helmet. That alone is a reason to have a helmet cam.
A Canadian fellow walked up to me when I rolled into Barra de Navidad and asked, “Are you heading down or heading back north“? I thought it sweet he noticed I was a Norte Americano and took the first step, “Heading south still, how ‘bout yerself”?
“I live here…three years now, love it” Blair replied.

I am in the Hotel that Blair recommended at 350 Pesos (~ $30) per night one block from the beach, clean with secure parking just outside the room and wireless internet. How am I going to escape this place? …said while hunt and pecking 15 meters from the crashing breakers which are slowly nibbling valuable real estate over recent years.

Plenty left just down the beach….

A 30 something Norwegian couple struck up a conversation about the motorcycle and told of their rides that included two up camping with out a trailer. Lennart and Mari Lise also like to stay many days at places they like such as here and Barra de Nexpa, a day ride south on the Mexican Riviera. Lennart is heading to PV to do sound on a Norwegian reality show about kids at a fancy Hotel. Crappola TV as he says. Mari Lise has been traveling extensively on her own in Cambodia, Laos, and Ghana working with an NGO as a social worker. They are fabulous people and were privileged to sign the STOC Memorial TAG book as well as share a meal and drinks with me.

Today they are deep sea fishing. I wait to see what sea trophies surface.
Not much is familiar here but I feel comfortable and almost at home. Certainly safe as far as the people go, the danger is not the folks here.
A woman from Saskatchewan I sat with on the beach has been coming to Mexico since the sixties and commented about the violence near the border.
“…Gangs are killing each other in my home town in the bread basket of Canada, you don’t see that in the news”

One of the things I wanted to do while here is find and meet British world walker Karl Bushby. According to the latest updates at his website:
he was holed up for two years in the town just up the beach, Melaque waiting for an extended visa to continue his walk home to England through Russia. A really fascinating story if you get a chance to look it over.
Turns out the Visa has apparently been granted and he got a much needed funding source in the form of a sponsor. Ironically, he is currently in NYC and will be in LA for an interview soon according to his host and fellow Brit in Melaque Dan Patman who co-runs MEX-ECO tours. Dan was good enough to fill me in of the whereabouts of Karl and sign the TAG book.
More pics here:

A great interview here:

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A ride after a sad goodbye to the gals...

Georgette and JoAnn are probably in the air heading home now, after a sad farewell to the our time togther in PV.
I really had a ball with them here. I decided to spend some time with Jose an Lety and will stay one more night here in PV at his house.

Later, Jose and I had some fun riding up the San Sebastian in the highlands east of PV. He rode his '89 Honda VTR 250 and led me down a long cobble stone and dirt road to a great little restaurant in the historic old mining town. Tight little cobbled streets with a gorgeous coffee smell wafting from the roasting process at the plantation just outside town lured us in further.
We visited Fausto on the way back down to PV. He wrote out his entry for the STOC TAG in Spanish and as it turns out he is quite the poet and singer/song writer as well as mechanic, custom home builder, and musician. He is trying to regain his emotional balance after a painful breakup with his girlfriend.

Jose wanted to beat the traffic heading back so we got a bit naughty through the lines of vehicles, something I would not do if I were alone. I'm back in the swing of the traffic patterns here. A good time to pass is whenever you can and it often happens at the topes where everyone is slowed to almost a stop. Bikes can often get a break at certain topes where there is a gap just big enough to ride through without the belly pan crashing down hard.
All in all, it's good to be alive.