THE VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Mac Daddy Robertson put together this video that includes most of the highlights from the trip from Colombia to Peru.

Advertisements

PERU THE ABSURD, PART 2 (THE FINALE)

AFTER SEEING EVERYTHING ONE COULD APPRECIATE BEHIND THE HANDLEBARS OF A MOTORCYCLE, WE ACCEPTED HANDSOME OFFERS TO SELL OUR MOTORCYCLES AND SEE THE REST OF PERU BY HORSEBACK AND ON SMELLY PERUVIAN BUSES BEFORE HEADING HOME.

MONDAY, AUGUST 5TH – DAY 61 – HUANUCO, PERU – HUANCAYO, PERU

We woke up the next morning slowly. Around 10am we were back on the road towards the next major city about 210 miles south. The road went to 13,500 feet and stayed there for about two hours and then ever so slowly descended to Huancayo (10,500 feet).

At some point during the ride I looked down and saw my left boot covered in dark liquid. Not good. It turned out that the fork seal on my left front suspension had failed. It wasn’t incredibly urgent but I’d have to take care of it when we arrived in the next city.

Arriving in Huancayo. A new development. Mac’s motorcycle randomly died twice while idling at a stoplight. We stopped at the first legit looking motorcycle dealership we saw to ask about my fork seal. I got some good leads about good motorcycle shops in the area and when we got back on our motorcycles, Mac’s wouldn’t even turn over. We pulled the spark plugs, and to our horror, the rear cylinder was completely full of radiator fluid. Meaning, most likely, a head gasket had failed and it would have to be replaced…That’s a BIG problem. After consulting our shop manual briefly to see how feasible it would be for us to take off the top end ourselves, we realized it would require the entire engine to be removed from the motorcycle. Not a good idea without access to more tools, space and some mechanical help. Definitely need to find a shop now.

I left Mac and Chase to find a shop and by the time I got back the motorcycle dealership helped Mac get the motorcycle started…good news. The problem obviously wasn’t fixed though, but we did manage to get Mac’s motorcycle the 6 blocks further down the street to a well-recommended mechanic. Within 2 hours of arriving at the shop, Edward (our new mechanic) had removed the engine from the motorcycle, and had removed the head and the gaskets from the motor. Incredible. In the meantime, Chase was feeling extremely terrible and went to a cheap hotel next door to rest. We’re blaming the dirty fat meat man and his rice.

Tomorrow we’d have to go find the right fork seals for my bike and get a new head gasket fabricated. But for now we were just in awe of the fact that Mac’s motorcycle decided to fail while we were in a city AND in front of a motorcycle dealership nonetheless. The odds were 1 in 100. But we’d been beating the odds since this trip started. 🙂

Leaving Huanaco
Leaving Huanaco
On our way up the mountain
On our way up the mountain

IMG_1636

Chasing Llamas
Chasing Llamas
Flat plains at 13,000+ feet. The Peruvian altiplano.
Flat plains at 13,000+ feet. The Peruvian altiplano.
This is the dirty fat meat man that got Chase and I sick. Here he is cooking Pachamanca (lamb,chicken, and pork cooked with hot rocks). When I saw this, I thought to myself, “that looks like a festering pile of disease and deliciousness, I’ll just get something else” what I should have thought was “that looks like a festering pile of disease and deliciousness, this guy probably cooks everything with the same level of hygiene, let’s go somewhere else.”
This is the dirty fat meat man that got Chase and I sick. Here he is cooking Pachamanca (lamb,chicken, and pork cooked with hot rocks). When I saw this, I thought to myself, “that looks like a festering pile of disease and deliciousness, I’ll just get something else” what I should have thought was “that looks like a festering pile of disease and deliciousness, this guy probably cooks everything with the same level of hygiene, let’s go somewhere else.”
This is what we ended up ordering. Arroz Chaufa. (fried rice). Apparently not any healthier.
This is what we ended up ordering. Arroz Chaufa. (fried rice). Apparently not any healthier.
Heading down the mountain
Heading down the mountain

IMG_1654

IMG_1656

Moments after discovering water in Mac's cylinder.
Moments after discovering water in Mac’s cylinder.
This was Chase's home for 48 hours.
This was Chase’s home for 48 hours.
Engine out! So far so good.
Engine out! So far so good.

TUESDAY, AUGUST 6TH – DAY 62 – HUANCAYO, PERU

The next morning Chase was totally out of commission with stomach/intestine problems and I woke up feeling pretty terrible as well. Luckily, Mac was pretty much unscathed. During the course of the day I pulled my front left suspension fork and we managed to get a new fork seal and the new head gasket for Mac’s bike fabricated. And then something else interesting happened.

Two customers from the shop saw the motorcycles and asked about buying them. At this point Chase only had about 10 days left before he had to be back home. This could be a good option, considering Chase was also on his deathbed thanks to the dirty-fat-meat-man. With a little bit of price negotiation we settled on $2200 ($100 more than what Chase paid for it 4 months and 9,000+ miles earlier). Within 1 hour Juan (the buyer) came back with $2200 in crisp United States tender. Success.

Both customers were practically begging me to sell my bike but I wasn’t ready to end the trip. Not Yet! But then, Jose (customer #2) offered me and Mac $4800 for our bikes. And with the condition that we wouldn’t sell them until the 22nd of August after we’d finished journeying through Peru and Bolivia. He gave us a $75 deposit and we bought our plane tickets home out of Lima, Peru. Satisfied with the price for the bikes, the savings we’d get from flying out of Lima instead of further south, and the reliability of the sale/seller ($75 deposit) we went to bed content. Little did we know, our situation would soon improve.

Replacing the fork seal on my suspension. Even more fun when you're sick.
Replacing the fork seal on my suspension. Even more fun when you’re sick.
Chase mustered up the strength to leave his bed and say goodbye to his baby.
Chase mustered up the strength to leave his bed and say goodbye to his baby.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 7TH – DAY 63 – HUANCAYO, PERU

Edward, our incredible mechanic, stayed up all night putting the motorcycle back together and fabricating several parts that had reached their limit so we could get on the road that day. By 11 am both motorcycles were road worthy. As we were packing up our stuff we were surprised by more visitors – Juan (the guy who bought Chase’s bike) and his father, Raul.  Raul immediately said he wanted to buy both mine and Mac’s bike. Our conversation went like this…

Raul – I want to buy both motorcycles.

Me – Oh sorry, we already sold them and received a deposit for them.

Raul – What if I pay you more?

Me – No, I don’t really care. We already settled $4800 for both bikes. It’s already done.

Raul – I’ll pay you $6000 for both today.

Me – Oh…. Let me talk to Mac…

It was an offer nearly impossible to refuse. I paid only $1950 for my bike and Mac paid $2500. $1050 and $500 gains respectively. This could mean money for motorcycles when we got back home and for me that was a THIRD of the cost of the entire trip… Both of us were super conflicted but it just made sense to take the offer and hit our last great destination (Machu Picchu) in bus. Again, within just an hour Juan’s Dad returned with $6000 in crisp United States tender. It was an extremely sad moment for us, but Juan and his father sweetened it for us. They offered to host us in their friend’s hacienda in the city that night and take us to their hacienda out in the mountains the next day to ride horses and shoot guns. Can’t turn that down either.

We paid our beloved mechanic, Edward, about $100 with a small tip for everything he had done for us and we removed our personal belongings from our motorcycles. Just a couple hours earlier we were within 5 minutes of leaving Huancayo to continue the journey south. Now we were selling our motorcycles. A dramatic change of plans.

We left Jose (original buyer) his $75 deposit with an apology and then Father and son (Juan and Raul) treated us to lunch and then took us back to their hacienda.

This was pretty much the first time I had eaten in 40 hours (due to stomach problems) and it didn’t sit well. It was a constant downer for the rest of the day. Everyone in Latin America always has his or her own remedy for stomach problems. Juan’s father gave me a “cane drink”. I assumed that was just a way of saying something with sugar. After the first big gulp, the intense, hot burning in my throat was an immediate indication that I had understood wrong. Haha.

At the hacienda we got to meet all the family and friends. We watched some of their off-road videos they had filmed out in the jungle and we got the whole tour of the horse stables and the house. We were put in our own fur-coat-decorated guesthouse.

For half a second it occurred to us maybe they had given us the $6000 just to take us back to their home, kill us and then take their money back with our motorcycles too. I think for Americans it’s harder to comprehend BUT, this is Latin America. Here, hospitality is such a ridiculously well-refined art that it just looks suspicious to us. But I DO love it!

Edward, our master mechanic.
Edward, our master mechanic.
Unpacking
Unpacking
Raul on the left and Juan on the right. The father and son that bought all three of our motorcycles.
Raul on the left and Juan on the right. The father and son that bought all three of our motorcycles.
The last time we saw our motorcycles. May your new owners love you as much as your last ones!
The last time we saw our motorcycles. May your new owners love you as much as your last ones!

THURSDAY, AUGUST 8TH – DAY 64 – HUANCAYO, PERU – TAYACAJA, PERU

The next day we woke up at sunrise and then Raul and one of his ranch hands (Tony) were there ready to take us to the family Hacienda in the mountains. For some reason, I ended up driving their 4×4 decked-out Toyota Landcruiser (still don’t know why, but i’m not complaining haha). The road to their Hacienda was insane. Almost 6 hours long along a dirt 2-track road hugging a sheer wall on one side and a cliff on the other. 80% of the ride was switchbacks up and down the Andes mountainside. The route was littered with construction stops, racing semis and a couple rock slides that we had to navigate across.

We arrived at the Hacienda before dark with time to go visit some nearby hot springs. We came back, ate dinner prepared by Raul’s wife on a wood stove, and then Raul showed us into his prized horseback saddle room. We each picked our favorite silver-plated saddle for the next day’s activities and went to bed.

SIDE NOTE: THE ROAD TO THE HACIENDA & THE KENNEDYS OF HUANCAYO
Raul’s family was given a HUGE parcel of land (Hacienda) several generations back as a gift from the government. The family used the land to mine silver and lead in the mountains and through their mining have made their family fortune. The 6-hour dirt road was made by none other than Raul himself from 1980 to 1993. Until then, all traveling to this area had to be done on horseback. The road opened up a lot of opportunities not just for Raul and his family but all the villages he connected with the road. During our trip, we had to stop several times for random errands and to say hello to people. Every time we stopped anywhere, everybody knew Raul and called him ‘uncle’. Unsurprisingly, Raul’s family is very well integrated in the government system in Huancayo (380,000 people). Two of his brothers were Mayors and another brother is currently a congressman.

Arriving in the "grand canyon" of Peru in style.
Arriving in the “grand canyon” of Peru in style.
One of our many pit stops.
One of our many pit stops.
This is looking across the canyon at the same road we were on. Hopefully this picture can give you a good idea of just how steep this mountain was.
This is looking across the canyon at the same road we were on. Hopefully this picture can give you a good idea of just how steep this mountain was.
This is looking down from the window of the car..
This is looking down from the window of the car..
This is a pretty good pic showing just how crazy/vertical this road was. The cliff on the right is just as steep as the wall on the left
This is a pretty good pic showing just how crazy/vertical this road was. The cliff on the right is just as steep as the wall on the left
Our sick wip.
Our sick wip.
Arriving at the Hacienda
Arriving at the Hacienda
The view from the Hacienda
The view from the Hacienda
The Robertson brothers enjoying the hot springs
The Robertson brothers enjoying the hot springs
Dinner at the Hacienda
Dinner at the Hacienda
Our sleeping accommodations. It was a super old house with a lot of history.
Our sleeping accommodations. It was a super old house with a lot of history.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 9TH – DAY 65 – TAYACAJA, PERU – HUANCAYO, PERU

The next morning we woke up before 6am and headed up the mountain to mount our horses: Rondon, Blanca Nieves and Chui (AKA Seabiscuit, Shadowfax and Black Beauty). Raul dropped us off with Reuben, one of the native farmers of the area, and his family for what he promised would be a great morning ride. Reuben’s wife prepared us a breakfast of GIANT corn, rice and lentils over a wood stove and then we got on our way further up the mountain. It was a 4-hour round trip to the top of the mountain to see some ancient ruins perched right at the tallest point (13,000 feet).

The horses were short and stout but for the most part were totally fine climbing up rocky 45-degree angle mountainside even at 13,000 feet. Our journey back down the mountain did include one exciting moment. Chase fell over the handlebars (reigns) for the second time since leaving California. In an attempt to beat Mac in a little race, his horse hit the brakes before tumbling down a little ledge and Chase ended up doing a front flip onto the ground and into a bush. Good thing we weren’t on a cliff… Me and Mac were cracking up.

When we came back, Reuben’s wife fed us chicken soup and Raul showed up to take us back to Huancayo so we could catch our bus to Cusco, Peru. During our conversation they chuckled at us, saying we were the “first tourists.” I have a hard time believing that we were the first tourists to visit the ruins but it very well could be true..

We then got back in the Toyota and headed back to Huancayo. At the bottom of the canyon I checked our altitude. 6500 feet. In other words from the river at the bottom to the top of the canyon/mountaintop it was 6600 feet and so steep you wouldn’t be able to walk down it straight (I think that beats the grand canyon, right?). It’s difficult to really show in pictures or describe how gnarly the whole canyon was. If this were in the US, it’d be a national park before you could say “taco.”

Our trip to Huancayo got a little more exciting when we ran out of gas away from any civilization and had to coast down the hill for 15 minutes before we could get help. We arrived in hauncayo around 8 but there were no more buses leaving so we spent the night with Raul at his home one more night.

Breakfast with Reuben. Rice, BIG CORN, and lentils.
Breakfast with Reuben. Rice, BIG CORN, and lentils.
Reuben and his family just outside his home.
Reuben and his family just outside his home.
Shadowfax, lord of the horses. This is the first time we saw Mac's horse and we were in awe as it stood there on the top of this crest... haha Then it got closer...
Shadowfax, lord of the horses. This is the first time we saw Mac’s horse and we were in awe as it stood there on the top of this crest… haha Then it got closer…
Seabiscuit!
Seabiscuit!
Mac having the time of his life.
Mac having the time of his life.
The three conquistadors.
The three conquistadors.
These horses were small but BUFF!
These horses were small but BUFF!
Grazing in the ruins
Grazing in the ruins
The top of the mountain among the ruins.
The top of the mountain among the ruins.
At the top of the mountain standing on the ruins.
At the top of the mountain standing on the ruins.
This is the bush Chase ended up doing a front-flip through. He came from the left and torpedoed to where he's standing now.
This is the bush Chase ended up doing a front-flip through. He came from the left and torpedoed to where he’s standing now.
Driving back to Huancayo and running out of gas at sunset.
Driving back to Huancayo and running out of gas at sunset.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 10TH – SATURDAY, AUGUST 17th – DAY 66-73 – HUANCAYO, PERU – MACHU PICCHU – HOME

At this point on our trip we no longer had motorcycles and I’m afraid the trip got a lot less exciting so I’ll be brief.

We only had one more place we really wanted to get to. Machu Picchu. We were a couple days of bus rides away and at first we were somewhat excited to “relax” on a bus for the first time on the trip.

For about 5-10% of my riding time (since leaving California) I’d say I was slightly jealous of all the comfortable passengers on board the buses we passed. No rain, no cold, no stress of mechanical failure, no diesel smoke in my face, less threat of crashing and dying. BUT after an hour on bus I no longer felt any jealousy whatsoever. Traveling in bus was terrible, winding bumpy roads made us all extremely uncomfortable the entire time. Loud obnoxious Peruvian music was blaring. We drove slower and we stopped more. I felt like I was on the “island fever” again crossing the Caribbean. And for some reason we all felt more exhausted traveling on bus than on motorcycle. I feel both sorry for people that have only traveled around South America on buses and sorry for myself because I will never be able to get on a bus again without miserably contemplating how much better it is on a motorcycle.

After a couple days of misery on bus and taxi we made it to within 6 miles of Machu Picchu. Everything in and around Machu Picchu is designed to steal money from rich people. We aren’t rich people so we had to take the long, cheap and more adventurous way to Machu Picchu. It was 9pm and we found ourselves at the base of Machu Picchu along a river and some railroad tracks. We were 6 miles away from the nearest civilization but lucky for us we were able to get a couple guides: 2 dogs. When the taxi dude dropped us off he pointed at some dogs and said, “give them some bread or something and they’ll take you to Machu Picchu.” haha ok… So there we were for 2 1/2 hours in the middle of the night, guided by 2 dogs, walking under the southern hemisphere stars and a huge black abyss that we knew was the mountain where Machu Picchu is perched (Wayna Picchu). We ended up getting into Aguas Calientes (the town at the bottom of Machu Picchu) around midnight.

The next day we took the bus up 50 switchbacks of dirt road to Machu Picchu and checked out the ruins. Very cool stuff. BUT, in my opinion a little too heavily regulated and touristy. We no longer felt like explorers but fellow disneyland goers. Mac got the whistle blown on him a bunch for walking where he wasn’t supposed to. We spent a few hours checking out the ruins, took the postcard photo and then headed…HOME.

One 6-mile hike, two 20-minute taxi rides, one 5-hour van ride, a 22-hour bus ride, and 18 hours of flights later we arrived safe and sound in San Diego airport. It had been 73 days and more than 10,000 miles since Chase and I had left California.

It feels pretty good to be home.

This is what it's like to travel on bus. Instead of hours of bike maintenance. Hours of waiting.
This is what it’s like to travel on bus. Instead of hours of bike maintenance. Hours of waiting.
We love buses...
We love buses…
Coming into Cusco, Peru
Coming into Cusco, Peru
The streets of Cusco
The streets of Cusco
Lots of waiting and chilling.
Lots of waiting and chilling.
Part of the road to Machu Picchu. We were agonizing imagining how much fun these roads would have been on motorcycle.
Part of the road to Machu Picchu. We were agonizing imagining how much fun these roads would have been on motorcycle.
On our way to Aguas Calientes guided by dog!
On our way to Aguas Calientes guided by dog!
Sketchy bridge crossings at night.
Sketchy bridge crossings at night.
Sketchy tunnel crossings. Thankfully no trains came while crossing through these things.
Sketchy tunnel crossings. Thankfully no trains came while crossing through these things.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes at midnight trying to find a cheap place to stay the night.
Arriving in Aguas Calientes at midnight trying to find a cheap place to stay the night.

IMG_3589

Llamas and Machu Picchu. Yes please.
Llamas and Machu Picchu. Yes please.

IMG_3605

The side of Machu Picchu you don't usually see.
The side of Machu Picchu you don’t usually see.
The "postcard" Machu Picchu shot.
The “postcard” Machu Picchu shot.
We found one of our guide dogs up the hill at Machu Picchu the next day... he looked dead. We did give him some of our sandwhiches, so... he should have been alright? Either way, he was a good dog!
We found one of our guide dogs up the hill at Machu Picchu the next day… he looked dead. We did give him some of our sandwhiches, so… he should have been alright? Either way, he was a good dog!
On our way back, the same way we came the night before.
On our way back, the same way we came the night before.

IMG_3617

Exploring some of the river that flows below Machu Picchu.
Exploring some of the river that flows below Machu Picchu.
It was interesting to see everything we had walked by during the night. I recommend both the night and day hike!
It was interesting to see everything we had walked by during the night. I recommend both the night and day hike!

TRIP STATS/SUMMARY/THOUGHTS TO FOLLOW…

PERU THE ABSURD, PART 1

FROM SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TO THE HIMALAYAS, TATOOOINE TO WILLY WONKA’S CHOCOLATE FACTORY…EVERYTHING IN PERU REMINDED US OF SOMETHING OUT OF A MOVIE, A PHOTOGRAPH, OR SOMETHING WE’D SEEN SOMEWHERE AT HOME. WITH A COASTLINE AS LONG AS THE WEST COAST OF THE U.S., PERU IS A COUNTRY OUTRAGEOUSLY DIVERSE AND INCONSISTENT IN EVERY REGARD.

Wednesday July 31st – Day 56 – Cuenca, Ecuador – Tumbes, Peru

Of all the border crossings we’ve done on the trip. This border crossing was the most civilized and organized of all. There were no moneychangers, no crazy border “helpers” and very little crowds. We were even told by a police officer to use the crosswalk to cross the street…It didn’t feel right.

A couple hours and $35 worth of insurance later we were on our way into Peru. The nearest city, Tumbes, was about 16 miles away and unfortunately for me, my headlight had gone out the day before and it was now dark. So for the 20 minute ride I followed Chase’s taillight and Mac’s headlight to the nearest city.

Looking for a place to stay we saw a little cheap sign for a hostel and followed it up a dirt road in a suburb of the city. After following half a mile people came out of their houses trying to get our attention. A car in front of us basically pulled out in front of us and tried to signal us over. This wasn’t completely crazy behavior for one person but this was a ton of people. We stopped and they were almost frantically telling us to turn around because we were in a dangerous area. The guy in the car waved at us so we could follow him out and then unknown to Mac and I, a cop had pulled chase over to tell him the same thing about 100 yards back. So. We followed their advice and turned around. We continued further down the highway and found a hotel in the downtown area for about $8 each and went walking through the streets.

My first impressions of Peru. Not anything like Ecuador, surprisingly. Way more energy, way more chaotic and dirty, way more people walking around, and the people have a different look as well. The people seemed to have a little bit more European blood than in Ecuador (at least in Tumbes). Gas prices were back up to ridiculous prices (almost $5/gallon) and with it came the motorcycle taxis all over the place. Ecuador was almost devoid of motorcycles. The energy was completely different though. I might like Peru a lot.

NOTE ABOUT THE CAMERA: Something happened to the camera in Ecuador but now it has a small black dot that shows up on the pictures. It’s not on the lens. I don’t know what the deal is but please accept our apologies about the black dot in the remainder of the photos.

No moneychangers..? No herds of people...? Clean tidy roads and buildings...?
No moneychangers..? No herds of people…? Clean tidy roads and buildings…?
No lines...? No fees...?
No lines…? No fees…?
Walking the streets of Tumbes, Peru
Walking the streets of Tumbes, Peru

Thursday August 1st –day 57 – Tumbes, Peru – Lobitos, Peru

The next morning we walked around town and quickly found a replacement headlight and headed for a surf break that some Aussies in Medellin had recommended. It was only about 130 miles south on the Pan-American highway.

This was our first experience with Peru in daylight but it felt like we had come home… kind of. The Ocean, the water, the waves, the temperature, the humidity, the overcast sky, the bluffs along the shore… ALL of it was identical to the scenery you’d see along the Southern California coast. But instead of pristine little beach communities lining the water, we were greeted with straw huts, dirt roads, fishing boats, birds, and the smell of burning garbage and dead fish. My brain was messing with me. At times I think I felt like I had finally come home and then I’d pass a little fishing village and immediately remember I was 8,000 miles from home.

A couple hours later the scenery turned into a more intense desert and some of the Californian similarities faded. After about 6 miles on dirt roads, we made it to the seemingly abandoned surf town of Lobitos. All the streets and houses were practically empty but we managed to rent a couple surfboards and wetsuits for $8 for the next morning. When we tried to get dinner, everything was closed except one little store where a lady said she’d make deep fried fish and bananas for us. When I asked if I could wash my hands before eating I was offered a bucket of water. When I asked for soap I just got “No.” It’s a little concerning to hear that from someone making you a meal in the backroom in a third world country. The food was delicious but I was keeping my fingers crossed for how I’d be feeling the next day.

After dinner we found a nice cove and went camping for the first time since Mexico. For some reason we’ve only ever felt safe camping on the beach. Maybe something about the Pacific…it’s the only geographic landmark (watermark?) that’s stayed with us since leaving home.

Riding a mototaxi on our way to find a headlight.
Riding a mototaxi on our way to find a headlight.
Look kind of familiar?
Look kind of familiar?
Figuring out ways to keep ourselves entertained on the long straights
Figuring out ways to keep ourselves entertained on the long straights
Typical Peruvian lunch. Fried rice and chicken soup.
Typical Peruvian lunch. Fried rice and chicken soup.
My waterbottle was ejected from my motorcycle at 65 mph and survived. A highlight from an otherwise boring road.
My waterbottle was ejected from my motorcycle at 65 mph and survived. A highlight from an otherwise boring road.
Some of the landscape surrounding the Panamerican highway
Some of the landscape surrounding the Panamerican highway
Off the highway and heading towards Lobitos.
Off the highway and heading towards Lobitos.
Mac checking the surf from the lifeguard tower
Mac checking the surf from the lifeguard tower
We went for some surf spot exploration so we'd be well prepared in the morning.
We went for some surf spot exploration so we’d be well prepared in the morning.
Chase on wave patrol.
Chase on wave patrol.
Surfboards. Check. Wetsuits. Check. Transportation. Check.
Surfboards. Check.
Wetsuits. Check.
Transportation. Check.
We went camping in this little cove. I didn't do anything to change this pic. The sunset was unreal and you'll see it only got more intense.
We went camping in this little cove. I didn’t do anything to change this pic. The sunset was unreal and you’ll see it only got more intense.
10 minutes later.
10 minutes later.
Our camping setup.
Our camping setup.

Friday August 2nd – Day 58 – Lobitos, Peru – Guadalupe, Peru

At sunrise, Mac and I sprung to life, got our wetsuits on and rode 5 minutes further south to a left point break we scouted out the day before. The shape was perfect but the size was a bit lacking (shoulder high and a little mushy).  I would have loved to stick around that place for a while to see a big swell. The locals we talked to gave us the typical, “You should have been here yesterday…”

Getting on the road around 11:00 am, the rest of the day was devoted to riding through the coldest, straightest, dustiest, windiest roads since the trip began two months ago. Our surroundings were completely flat, barren and uninteresting. You might think the pictures look cool, and I’d agree with you. But I’d bet you’d get bored looking at pictures of this place after just one minute.

Around 6:00 pm we pulled into Guadalupe, Peru. We found a cheap little hotel for $3.70/person and dinner for $1.85/person. I’ll take it! Too bad premium gas here goes for about $5.55/gallon. That makes dinner and a hotel as expensive as one gallon of gas…absurd.

That morning arriving at Baterías. (it looked the best the afternoon before)
That morning arriving at Baterías. (it looked the best the afternoon before)
Baterías pullin through.
Baterías pullin through.
Two bananas in one. Peru the absurd.
Two bananas in one. Peru the absurd.
Ya. It got windy sometimes on the road.
Ya. It got windy sometimes on the road.
Riding through Piura, Peru
Riding through Piura, Peru
Desert.
Desert.
More desert.
More desert.
This is where we stopped for lunch. and more desert.
This is where we stopped for lunch. and more desert.
desert gettin desertier
desert gettin desertier
us and nothing.
us and nothing.
our motorcycles and nothing.
our motorcycles and nothing.
desert gettin windier and sandier.
desert gettin windier and sandier.
We did see a 12 motorcycle caravan coming from Ecuador that we met up with for a second. That was kinda cool.
We did see a 12 motorcycle caravan coming from Ecuador that we met up with for a second. That was kinda cool.
Dinner. Fried rice.
Dinner. Fried rice.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 3rd – DAY 59 – GUADALUPE, PERU – YUNGAY, PERU

Waking up in our $3.70/person hotel accommodations we did a quick oil change and then headed south through what we had now deemed the ugliest country we’d seen yet.  The desert continued.

At the suggestion of some Brits we met in Quito, AND because we were getting more and more suicidal for every straight desert highway mile…we took the road less traveled by and grabbed a dirt road headed for the Andes Mountains. Adios Pan-American Highway!

The day after the most terrible day of riding since the trip began, this was the most incredible. Our dirt road pulled directly away from Tatooine and the Pan-American Highway into a river gorge that looked like the pictures we’ve all seen of Afghanistan. Around every corner the scenery got more and more unbelievable. The ride only got more absurd when we started riding through a gauntlet of tunnels cut out along the rock cliffs. After 90 miles of incredible dirt roads slowly climbing into the mountains we arrived at the small town of Yungay. It seemed as though we had arrived in a town straight that you’d expect to find inside of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. More than half the people in the small town were decked out in a very colorful and strange fashion. We’d seen funky Andes fashion before but this was more extreme. My very professional opinion is that it looked like the people here had gotten a hold of the Spaniards’ most colorful 16th century thrift store clothes and stuck with them for the last several hundred years. After securing a hotel we found a GIGANTIC fried rice dinner for about $2.25 each and hit the hay.

Waking up to...you guessed it. Desert.
Waking up to…you guessed it. Desert.
If you ever are in Peru and see this spot. TURN LEFT!!!
If you ever are in Peru and see this spot. TURN LEFT!!!
Getting ourselves pumped up for the unknown. Right after we pulled off the highway.
Getting ourselves pumped up for the unknown. Right after we pulled off the highway.
The beginning of our 90-mile dirt road ecstasy
The beginning of our 90-mile dirt road ecstasy
Pavement for 5 minutes before entering the canyon. Everything that follows explains itself for the most part.
Pavement for 5 minutes before entering the canyon. Everything that follows explains itself for the most part.

IMG_1462

IMG_1463

IMG_1466

IMG_1475

Afghanistan?
Afghanistan?
Yup. Afghanistan.
Yup. Afghanistan.
Corporal Chase.
Corporal Chase.

IMG_1494

IMG_1496

IMG_1498

One of the tunnels. In case you couldn't tell. Some of them were longer than 100 yards.
One of the tunnels. In case you couldn’t tell. Some of them were longer than 100 yards.

IMG_1506

So we found a little basket on a wire that crossed the gorge. It said, "Dam employees only". But we all had to try out the Dam thing anyways.
So we found a little basket on a wire that crossed the gorge. It said, “Dam employees only”. But we all had to try out the Dam thing anyways.
Manning the ropes!
Manning the ropes!
Coming out of our canyon arriving in the Andes!
Coming out of our canyon arriving in the Andes!
Yungay!! (Willy Wonka's chocolate factory) We liked getting sneak shots...
Yungay!! (Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory) We liked getting sneak shots…
Cruising the markets in Yungay.
Cruising the markets in Yungay.
More market time.
More market time.
Big o Dinner and a Big o Inca Kola.
Big o Dinner and a Big o Inca Kola.
This was our hotel's parking garage. Excellent!
This was our hotel’s parking garage. Excellent!

SUNDAY AUGUST 4TH – DAY 60 – YUNGAY, PERU – HUANUCO, PERU

We woke up the next morning bright and early to some ungodly roosters howling at the moon. We had a lot of ground to cover but, first, we had to make a pit stop at a lake nestled in the mountains above our funky little village. After 45 minutes of dirt roads winding through hilly farmland we reached Huascaran National Park. We had left Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory and now entered the Swiss Alps. The scenery was unreal.

After some quick pit stops to check out our surroundings we backtracked down the mountain and got on the paved highway south. Our journey took us higher and higher and higher into the Andes. First through what we referred to as the plains of Rohan and then through the Himalayas. At our highest elevation of 15,300 feet we even managed to drive by some snow. The motorcycles barely puttin’ along.

Descending from 15,300 feet our highway turned into a one-lane half-paved death road. For four hours we rode along a cliff dodging speeding oncoming cars around corners and every farm animal you ever learned about in kindergarten. It was EASILY the craziest/scariest/longest/deadliest road I’ve ever been on. I suppose none of us were extremely surprised when we came around one corner and saw a crowd of people gathered along the cliff staring at a car 300 feet below that had gone tumbling down just an hour before we arrived.  (The guy was carried off to the hospital before we arrived, but I doubt anyone would survive something like that).

As we continued, on the now more appropriately named ‘death road,’ it got dark and we were still more than an hour away from real civilization. Just as I was thinking to myself how lucky we’d be for making it to the next city without any accidents, I realized I couldn’t make out Chase or Mckay’s headlights in my rear view mirror. I pulled over. Waited 30 seconds. Then turned around with my heart in my stomach.

In one quick instant while Mckay had attempted to pass a small semi, the road suddenly got thinner, the semi compensated and unknowingly smacked mckay’s handlebars and forced him to the dirt. When I made it back to him he only had a bloodied knee and some scraped fairings to show for the incident. Lucky bugger.

20 minutes later we arrived in Huanuco and splurged on a hotel ($8.50/person).

It had been a long day. 12 hours of riding. 5 of it either on dirt or on a single lane highway trying to stay alive. My brain and my body were done. A slight fever was my body’s way of telling me I had pushed it a little too far. Lesson learned.

Ready for tomorrow!

More sneak shots of the locals...sorry.
More sneak shots of the locals…sorry.
And more...
And more…
On our way up to Huascaran National Park
On our way up to Huascaran National Park
Entering the Park.
Entering the Park.
Pretty unbelievable stuff.
Pretty unbelievable stuff.
The lake had the coolest light turquoise color. I imagine from some weird glacial water melt off reaction.
The lake had the coolest light turquoise color. I imagine from some weird glacial water melt off reaction.

IMG_3198

IMG_3203

Cruising through Rohan. Strangely enough, we were warmer at 13,000 feet than we were at sea level. Typical Peru...
Cruising through Rohan. Strangely enough, we were warmer at 13,000 feet than we were at sea level. Typical Peru…

IMG_1600

IMG_1610

Lunch break. We went with the chicken instead.
Lunch break. We went with the chicken instead.

IMG_1613

One of the last photos we got before we got REALLY high in the mountains. The memory card on Chase's camera got full and we didn't realize until the way down. But we got to the snow level you can see in this shot.
One of the last photos we got before we got REALLY high in the mountains. The memory card on Chase’s camera got full and we didn’t realize until the way down. But we got to the snow level you can see in this shot.
FINALLY. on our way down the mountain.
FINALLY. on our way down the mountain.
The road goes from one lane to 1 and a half.
The road goes from one lane to 1 and a half.
Arriving at the scene of people trying to get a look at the car that had gone off the cliff.
Arriving at the scene of people trying to get a look at the car that had gone off the cliff.
This is what we could see 300 feet up.
This is what we could see 300 feet up.
Really excited about this road after seeing that.
Really excited about this road after seeing that.
The crown of the Incas.
The crown of the Incas.
The last photo before it got dark and Chase's camera died. We were pretty trigger happy the past two days. But this is what we were dealing with. Just imagine a 80-degree cliff on one side the whole time.
The last photo before it got dark and Chase’s camera died. We were pretty trigger happy the past two days. But this is what we were dealing with. Just imagine a 80-degree cliff on one side the whole time.
Mac's battle wounds from "death road"
Mac’s battle wounds from “death road”

ECUADOR: LAND OF OPPORTUNITY (for poor adventurers)

MONKEYS, MOUNTAINS, MUD, AND MORE! IT SEEMED AS THOUGH FOR EVERY HOUR ON THE ROAD WE’D GO THROUGH A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LANDSCAPE POLAR OPPOSITE TO THE LAST. THE SCENERY IN THIS COUNTRY HAS BEEN MIND-BLOWING! ALMOST AS MIND-BLOWING AS THE $1.48/GALLON GAS PRICES AND THE $2 FULL COURSE MEALS.

FRIDAY, JULY 26th – DAY 51 – IPIALES, COLOMBIA – QUITO, ECUADOR

Up to this point, everything we had done on this journey I knew was feasible and legal. When Mac bought a Swiss registered motorcycle that was legally supposed to be out of Colombia 4 months earlier (and now subject to “legal penalties”), we found ourselves in a precarious situation. Upon leaving Colombia, the police might have a couple different questions for Mac that could have led to imminent fines or seizure of the motorcycle…

Where is the owner of the bike (according to this title)?

Are you aware that you are no longer legally allowed to have this bike in Colombia?

Why have you allowed the bike to stay in the country 7 months instead of 3?

We prepared for as many scenarios as possible with fake owner permission forms and titles and explanations for the motorcycle’s delay leaving the country. But for the first time in our border crossing history, there was no machine-gun toting police officer there to check our vehicle permits. So… we stamped our passports out of Colombia and rode into Ecuador. So far so good! Arriving in Ecuador we stamped in and then used Mac’s photoshopped Swiss title (now with his name on it) to buy $5 insurance and get our Ecuadorian vehicle permits. Everything went perfect! Mac’s bike wasn’t seized, no one asked any questions, and from here on out he’d just use the fake title in his name. Success!

Leaving the border we headed through extremely diverse terrain once more. We went from cold/wet conditions to hot desert and then to extremely high mountains once more. We arrived in Quito(9,500 feet), the capital of Ecuador, which sits right on the equator, just after it got dark. We’d already passed the Tropic of Cancer back in Mexico and I was semi-looking forward to going from “summer” to “winter” in a split second as we crossed the line.

When we arrived at our hostel we asked where the equator was. The guy responded, “oh ya, you passed it about 20 minutes ago.” Oh. Cool.

Packing up our stuff for the last time in Colombia.
Packing up our stuff for the last time in Colombia.
Mac Daddy Robertson, officially accepted into Ecuador with a photoshopped swiss title.
Mac Daddy Robertson, officially accepted into Ecuador with a photoshopped swiss title.
Arriving in Ecuador, the first town. Tulcan.
Arriving in Ecuador, the first town. Tulcan.
More Tulcan.
More Tulcan.
tons of green farmland on all sides.
tons of green farmland on all sides.
Dippin down into lower elevations again.
Dippin down into lower elevations again.
On our way down
On our way down
RIding through a random HOT desert at the bottom of the valley
RIding through a random HOT desert at the bottom of the valley
came around a corner and saw mount imbabura (15,000 feet)
came around a corner and saw mount imbabura (15,000 feet)
Ibarra is the city just at the foot of the mountain
Ibarra is the city just at the foot of the mountain
We ended up doing a full loop basically around the mountain and then up into higher elevations once more.
We ended up doing a full loop basically around the mountain and then up into higher elevations once more.
The view of Cotopaxi (a dormant volcano) from the highway.
The view of Cotopaxi (a dormant volcano) from the highway.
Cayambe, another dormant volcano that loomed over us throughout half the day.
Cayambe, another dormant volcano that loomed over us throughout half the day.
Arriving in Quito at night, we ended up staying in a hostel 15 feet to the right from where this was taken.
Arriving in Quito at night, we ended up staying in a hostel 15 feet to the right from where this was taken.

SATURDAY, JULY 27th – DAY 52 – QUITO, ECUADOR

The entire day was spent taking care of our last major motorcycle adjustments of the trip. Chase and I put our new front tires on we’d been hauling around. I got a new off-road oriented back tire as well. We had a shop put new brake material on Chase’s front brakes for $6 (finding new originals has been impossible every time we’ve looked). We also made a crappy improvisation to Chase’s choke lever that had snapped off when he fell in Baja California. Until now he hadn’t really needed it, but when we entered the Andes he had to hold the choke cable with his hand every morning until the engine was warm. Finally, we did a valve adjustment on Mac’s bike and checked the KLR 650s as well. All good. From here on out, hopefully just oil changes and chain maintenance.

New tires, new brakes. Ready for action!
New tires, new brakes. Ready for action!
Valve adjustments on the Honda
Valve adjustments on the Honda

SUNDAY, JULY 28th – DAY 53 – QUITO, ECUADOR – TENA, ECUADOR

While putting Mac’s valve covers on the day before, an important (and warped) bolt snapped in half. We managed to get it out of the engine block but it was a chore Sunday morning finding/cutting the right size replacement bolt. We got everything sorted early though and got on our way headed towards the Amazon Rainforest. To get there we’d have to cross completely over Andes Mountains. From Quito (9,500 feet) we went up, and up and up and up and up until finally reaching the top of the pass at 13,500 feet. With the lack of oxygen, the motorcycles felt as powerful as a moped.

All of our surroundings changed rapidly during the course of an hour. It was freezing and windy at the top but the descent into the Amazon warmed up quickly. The mountains went from pale brown vegetation to green and then thicker and thicker vegetation. The descent only took about a couple hours but by the time we reached the Upper Amazon Rainforest we had already dropped to below 2,000 feet.

After some annoying tire issues, we arrived in Tena around 5:00pm. We had just enough light to go for a jungle ride. After securing our hostel we bolted for the nearest remote dirt road. Two hours later we were back in Tena for dinner and bed.

Peace out Quito.
Peace out Quito.
On our gusty climb up to 13,500 feet and over the Andes mountain range
On our gusty climb up to 13,500 feet and over the Andes mountain range
Finally on our way down and the scenery immediately turned green.
Finally on our way down and the scenery immediately turned green.
and greener. and more and more beautiful
and greener. and more and more beautiful
My poor baby awaiting a new inner tube on the side of the road after getting my first flat.
My poor baby awaiting a new inner tube on the side of the road after getting my first flat.
Inner tube repair. A half hour of labor - $1.50.
Inner tube repair. A half hour of labor – $1.50.
Coming back from the tire place
Coming back from the tire place
Another angle of our roadside maintenance location.
Another angle of our roadside maintenance location.
The view from the last hill before the landscape turns completely flat. Only like 2000 miles to the Atlantic..
The view from the last hill before the landscape turns completely flat. Only like 2000 miles to the Atlantic..
Dropping down from said hill
Dropping down from said hill
Chase gettin creative with his photography skills.
Chase gettin creative with his photography skills.
Finally reached the bottom. Pretty much flat from here on out.
Finally reached the bottom. Pretty much flat from here on out.
A quick pit stop during our evening jungle ride.
A quick pit stop during our evening jungle ride.
A view of the dirt road we found.
A view of the dirt road we found.
Sightseeing at the headwaters of the Amazon river
Sightseeing at the headwaters of the Amazon river
It got dark, as we had kind of hoped. And we ended up riding 30 minutes through the rainforest like this.
It got dark, as we had kind of hoped. And we ended up riding 30 minutes through the rainforest like this.

MONDAY, JULY 29th – DAY 54 – TENA, ECUADOR – BANOS, ECUADOR

We woke up the next morning with one thing on our minds. Monkeys.

The night before, the owner of the hotel mentioned a little town down the river that was full of monkeys. We were immediately sold. We rode about 30 minutes further east into the Amazon rainforest to a little town called Misahualli. It was the same as any other Ecuadorian jungle town BUT with monkeys running around! After more than 30 minutes of monkey-play-time, we hopped on a little skinny canoe and went for a 45-minute boat cruise on the mighty Napo River (one of the headwaters of the Amazon River). The boat cruise was not complete without a quick dip.

Side note: we were at an elevation of about 1300 feet here. The water we were swimming in eventually becomes part of the Amazon River and drains out in the Atlantic more than 2500 miles downstream. That’s about half a foot of elevation drop for every mile. It’s crazy to think that for so many miles the Earth is so flat.

After our Jungle cruise we backtracked towards Tena and then headed for Banos (a tiny turisty city at the base of one of the most active volcanoes in South America, Tungurahua). For the most part we stayed on curvy jungle roads before meeting up with the Pastaza River and following it through a gorge to the town of Banos. I’ve run out of clever adjectives to describe the scenery so you’ll have to just check out the photos.

Arriving in Banos, we immediately set out to find a road that could take us closest to top of the volcano. From Banos we could only see clouds blocking the top of the volcano where according to locals, it was bellowing tons of ash.

The road started out paved, then turned into rocks, then turned into mud. Mac was having a fun time with his semi-worn street tires. Although we never were able to see the top of the volcano, the road had a gorgeous view of the valley below and it was well worth it to see Mac fall in the mud 10 times.

Arriving in Misahualli. MONKEYS! I really like the monkey pics so I'm putting a bunch of them up...
Arriving in Misahualli. MONKEYS! I really like the monkey pics so I’m putting a bunch of them up…

IMG_1135

A lady told us that if we tear up onions and lay them out on our laps the monkeys would flock to us. And they did! something about the onions makes them go nuts. they would sit on our laps and just start scratching themselves and rubbing themselves down all over. ..and peeing all over us.
A lady told us that if we tear up onions and lay them out on our laps the monkeys would flock to us. And they did! something about the onions makes them go nuts. they would sit on our laps and just start scratching themselves and rubbing themselves down all over. ..and peeing all over us.
I'm pretty sure I've got 5 monkeys on my lap here.
I’m pretty sure I’ve got 5 monkeys on my lap here.

IMG_1147

IMG_1151

“If there is one thing I’m proud of that I’ve done in my life, it’s that I’ve played with monkeys!” –Mac Robertson
“If there is one thing I’m proud of that I’ve done in my life, it’s that I’ve played with monkeys!” –Mac Robertson
We found the papa. He was a real gentleman.
We found the papa. He was a real gentleman.
Riding through the Amazon...
Riding through the Amazon…
Floatin' through the Amazon.
Floatin’ through the Amazon.
Coming back to port
Coming back to port
The road leaving the Monkey Kingdom
The road leaving the Monkey Kingdom
The sign says, "Danger, maximum height 2.4 Meters"
The sign says, “Danger, maximum height 2.4 Meters”
A quick pit stop in the river gorge on the way to Banos.
A quick pit stop in the river gorge on the way to Banos.
oooooooo
oooooooo
There were a bunch of tunnels we had to go through to get to Banos. Water was dripping and sometimes spewing from the ceiling.
There were a bunch of tunnels we had to go through to get to Banos. Water was dripping and sometimes spewing from the ceiling.

Mac’s motorcycle crash segment —>

Crash #1
1..

Crash #2
2..
Crash #3
3..
Crash #4
4!
It's hard to tell from the pics but the whole road was at a pretty steep angle.
It’s hard to tell from the pics but the whole road was at a pretty steep angle the entire ride.
Coming down the Volcano without seeing anything..
Coming down the Volcano without seeing the top…bummer.
From this vantage point you are supposed to be able to see the volcano perfectly. bummer.
From this vantage point you are supposed to be able to see the volcano perfectly. not today.
These volcano refuge centers (soccer fields) were all over the place.
These volcano refuge centers (soccer fields) were all over the place.
The Cathedral in Banos
The Cathedral in Banos

TUESDAY JULY 30th – DAY 55 – BANOS, ECUADOR – CUENCA, ECUADOR

Lucky for us, our hostel came equipped with a rooster that liked to caw at 2:00 am, 3:00am, 4:00am, etc. We all slept great..

In the morning we took care of a few maintenance items. Mac got both of his mirrors (which broke off the day before on the volcano road) semi-fixed. Leaving Banos, Tungurahua was still covered in clouds…bummer. Then it was on to Cuenca, Ecuador, “Ecuador’s most beautiful city.” The ride was semi-uneventful. 210 miles, mostly above 10,000 feet. We passed by Chimborazo, a giant dormant volcano and also the farthest point from the center of the earth. We arrived in Cuenca with light to spare and went for a stroll. It seems all the trendy people of Ecuador have found their way to that city. It had a really cool vibe and beautiful city streets.

Our midget hotel room. We all smacked our heads on the light bulbs a bunch. Luckily nothing broke.
Our midget hotel room. We all smacked our heads on the light bulbs a bunch. Luckily nothing broke.
A typical Ecuadorian breakfast. $2. And the soup is half eaten..
A typical Ecuadorian breakfast. $2. And the soup is half eaten..
Leaving Banos and heading for the Ecuadorian highlands. Chimborazo somewhere to our right.
Leaving Banos and heading for the Ecuadorian highlands. Chimborazo somewhere to our right.
The only photo we got of the top of Chimborazo.. The farthest point from the center of the Earth.
The only photo we got of the top of Chimborazo.. The farthest point from the center of the Earth.
The ride to Cuenca
The ride to Cuenca
Looking out over what my map says is the Pacific Ocean and Guayaquil, Ecuador (50 miles away)
Looking out over what my map says is the Pacific Ocean and Guayaquil, Ecuador (50 miles away)
The view from our hostel balcony of Cuenca
The view from our hostel balcony of Cuenca
The famous cathedral in Cuenca
The famous cathedral in Cuenca

WEDNESDAY JULY 31st – DAY 56 – CUENCA, ECUADOR – TUMBES, PERU

After Mac’s muddy volcano experience a couple days before we spent an hour finding mac a new rear tire. At around 10:30 am we left Cuenca and headed for the Ecuador-Peru border near the coast. At some point the scenery changed into a hot mountainous desert. Along the side of the highway we saw a dirt road carving through the mountains and since we were making good time, we opted for the scenic route. The road wasn’t on my GPS but it seemed to go in the right direction-ish. After following the dirt road 30 minutest we stopped to ask a woman whether the road would eventually lead us back to the highway. She just responded, laughing “Ya, but you’re better off turning around!” Eventually we made it back to the highway and then the Peruvian border. Adios, Ecuador! It’s been real.

The ride out of Cuenca. I think our hostel was one of those buildings.
The ride out of Cuenca. I think our hostel was one of those buildings.
Down the mountain and towards the Peruvian/Ecuadorian coastline
Down the mountain and towards the Peruvian/Ecuadorian coastline
DETOUR!
DETOUR!
Cowboy life.
Yeeeehaw!
sketchy bridge crossings on our dirt road detour
sketchy bridge crossings on our dirt road detour
A quick break before we started the descent down the mountain and towards the overcast coastline
A quick break before we started the descent down the mountain and towards the overcast coastline
We literally turned a corner and the mountain went from desert to jungle. typical ecuador.
We literally turned a corner and the mountain went from desert to jungle. typical ecuador.
Back on the main highway we found the banana plantations! This went on for half an hour. Endless.
Back on the main highway we found the banana plantations! This went on for half an hour. Endless.

IMG_1316

Peru. To be continued…

COLOMBIA THE BEAUTIFUL PART 2

FINALLY, OUR TWO MAN COMPANIONSHIP BECAME A THREE MAN FELLOWSHIP. THE SOUTHERN HALF OF COLOMBIA HAD ITS FAIR SHARE OF CLOSE CALLS ALONG SOME OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STRETCHES OF HIGHWAY SINCE WE STARTED THE TRIP.

TUESDAY JULY 16TH – DAY 41 —> MONDAY JULY 22ND – DAY 47 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

Finally, our new travel companion (mac daddy robertson) arrived tuesday evening at the airport. For weeks before, Mac had been emailing the owner of a Kawasaki KLR 650 (same bike both Chase and I have) who had agreed to sell the bike to Mac when he arrived. Mac let the dude know when he was coming to town and the guy responded saying that would be just fine. But when Mac arrived all communication stopped..

Frustrated. Annoyed. Angry.

He finally emails back after a day saying he left the country and that he’d be back 5 days later to sell Mac the bike. When we tried emailing for clarification, responses were super sporadic and vague. The uncertainty of whether we’d find a motorcycle for Mac was a constant downer on our moods.

In the meantime, we watched our roommates snort cocaine, rode the subway through the city, rode a gondola to the mountains, went horseback riding, and celebrated with the entire city after they beat Bogota in the annual rivalry soccer game. Aside from a few other minor turisty activities we just did some maintenance on our motorcycles, ate delicious food, watched movies, played pool and played more pool.

Emails continued sporadic and vague which gave us just enough hope to wait until Monday.

Monday morning arrived and still no word. Luckily, the worthless Diego (the flaky motorcycle seller), left us the name of a friend and his phone number that was also selling an adventure bike. When Monday afternoon arrived, we called Diego’s friend, Juan Diego. Juan Diego responded immediately and we ended up meeting with him later that night. The motorcycle fit our needs perfectly and we agreed to meet the next morning to seal the deal. We all agreed to leave the next day whether we had a bike for Mac or not. Enough waiting. We went to bed still uneasy about the bike situation.

Robertson brothers reunited 6,000 miles from home
Robertson brothers reunited 6,000 miles from home
The "E True Hollywood Story" behind this journey. Constant motorcycle maintenance. Changing out the sprockets.
The “E True Hollywood Story” behind this journey. Constant motorcycle maintenance. Changing out the sprockets.
Hoppin on board our gondola.
Hoppin on board our gondola.
On the way to the forest on a gondola to ride horses. Medellin the beautiful in the background.
On the way to the forest on a gondola to ride horses. Medellin the beautiful in the background.
swappin' out the steel horses for some real ones.
swappin’ out the steel horses for some real ones.
Bandeja Paisa. The traditional meal of the state of Antioquia where Medellin is located. I don't know what half of this stuff is called but it was GREAT!
Bandeja Paisa. The traditional meal of the state of Antioquia where Medellin is located. I don’t know what half of this stuff is called but it was GREAT!
This is what most of our week looked like
This is what most of our week looked like
Eating at "Pizza Goooooooooooooool" Our favorite lunch/dinner destination.
Eating at “Pizza Goooooooooooooool” Our favorite lunch/dinner destination.
White flour everywhere! There was a giant mob behind me celebrating the Medellin victory over Bogota. This was before we decided to join in on the action.
White flour everywhere! There was a giant mob behind me celebrating the Medellin victory over Bogota. This was before we decided to join in on the action.
The people were going NUTS. Every car that went by got sprayed with flour and pushed from left to right until the tires were off the ground.
The people were going NUTS. Every car that went by got sprayed with flour and pushed from left to right until the tires were off the ground.
This sums up the atmoshpere
This sums up the atmoshpere
They said it was just flour...but we still aren't sure.
They said it was just flour…but we still aren’t sure.
The aftermath. The people kept going all night. The next day we woke up and flour was still everywhere on the streets.
The aftermath. The people kept going all night. The next day we woke up and flour was still everywhere on the streets.

TUESDAY JULY 23RD – DAY 48 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA – SALENTO, COLOMBIA

TUESDAY. TERRIFIC TUESDAY. Everything went according to plan. We bought the bike. We got insurance for Mac. We lubed our chains. Changed Mac’s oil. AND LEFT MEDELLIN!

I love Medellin but we were all embarrassingly giddy leaving the city. The road was incredible as usual. Leaving the city it was a steady curvy mountain road. First we climbed. Then we dropped down to a hot and sweaty valley.

During the first 45 minutes of our ride, Mac had his first close call. During a turn on the highway he swung out so wide that his handlebar knocked the side of a bus in the adjacent lane. I caught the action in my rear view mirror and thought he was a goner. We pulled over so Chase and I could describe every crazy driving situation we’d seen during the trip so Mac could know what to expect from there on out.

Getting back on the road a little slower this time we passed several towns that were lined with policemen with riot shields standing on the side of the highway and then up again to Colombia’s aptly named coffee-producing agricultural zone, the “coffee triangle.”

At some point while traveling through the large city of Pereira I had my closest near-death experience of the trip. The city mainly consisted of one way streets and highways and at one point we merged onto another two lane highway that I assumed was one-way. No lanes and no signs to say otherwise. There was a bus stopping on the right hand lane so I sped around its left side to come face to face with a large transport van. It was the first time I felt like my life was completely in the hands of a stranger. The van immediately swerved and skidded sideways to my left opening just enough room for me to swerve between him and the stopped bus.

I couldn’t sleep that night thinking about it. It’s a mistake I won’t repeat.

We finished the day making a detour out to a small town called Salento. Some dude on another adventure bike told us to stop there for the night. It was well worth it. Chill colonial vibes, cheap hotels, cheap food and within close proximity to a national park.

And then we were three!
And then we were three!
Chase expounding on the fine details of our trip with the curious mechanics where we dumped Mac's old oil and lubed our chains.
Chase expounding on the fine details of our trip with the curious mechanics where we dumped Mac’s old oil and lubed our chains.
Walking out of the insurance building with free cokes. All our ducks were in a row. Time to get back on the road!
Walking out of the insurance building with free cokes. All our ducks were in a row. Time to get back on the road!
Heading down the mountain from Medellin
Heading down the mountain from Medellin
Tunnel time
Tunnel time
The road construction people like to surprise you sometimes with loose gravel appearing at random spots. Sometimes in the middle of a turn.
The road construction people like to surprise you sometimes with loose gravel appearing at random spots. Sometimes in the middle of a turn.
The coffee triangle! Coffee plantations everywhere
The coffee triangle! Coffee plantations everywhere
Coming into the city of Pereira. Shortly after this photo I almost became a dead man.
Coming into the city of Pereira. Shortly after this photo I almost became a dead man.
Dinner in Salento. $2 and FANTASTIC!
Dinner in Salento. $2 and FANTASTIC!
Outside our luxury accommodations after our first full days ride as a trio.
Outside our luxury accommodations after our first full days ride as a trio.

WEDNESDAY JULY 24TH – DAY 49 – SALENTO, COLOMBIA – POPAYAN, COLOMBIA

At the recommendation of some locals we woke up and went straight to the Cocora Valley. A beautiful valley famous for the Colombian national tree, the wax palm.

After arriving at a dead end, we backtracked through the valley and got back on the panamerican highway and headed once more towards the south. The road dipped down to a lower elevation and then for the majority of the day we drove through hot farmland and then through the dumpy city of Cali, Colombia. Later in the day we headed back up into the mountains and found a place to stay in the colonial downtown of Popayan, Colombia.

Just as we arrived, Chase’s tire got a flat (the first in more than 6,000 miles). It was quickly taken care of at a local tire shop for $2.50 and we went to bed.

Heading into Cocora Valley
Heading into Cocora Valley
The first wax palm in sight!
The first wax palm in sight!
The road started to get more fun at this point.
The road started to get more fun at this point.
And more fun.
And more fun.
Mac, breaking in the new wheels.
Mac, breaking in the new wheels.
Bizarre looking scenery here but beautiful.
Bizarre looking scenery here but beautiful.
One quick pit stop before getting back to Salento and then south once more.
One quick pit stop before getting back to Salento and then south once more.
Constant motorcycle maintenance...When we got back to Salento, Mac's muffler was making a terrible noise. It took us a couple hours to get it all sorted out.
Constant motorcycle maintenance…When we got back to Salento, Mac’s muffler was making a terrible noise. It took us a couple hours to get it all sorted out.
Showing off to Mac my incredible no handed driving skills in the middle of nowhere
Showing off to Mac my incredible no handed driving skills in the middle of nowhere
A timer to tell you how long you have to wait at the red light. We need these in the states!
A timer to tell you how long you have to wait at the red light. We need these in the states!
Picking up some trash on our way out of Cali, Colombia. It wouldn't come off even if I kicked..
Picking up some trash on our way out of Cali, Colombia. It wouldn’t come off even if I kicked..
One of the many little towns we rolled through during the day
One of the many little towns we rolled through during the day
These kids grab onto the back of the semis in order to avoid having to peddle uphill. Smart and ballsy. I like it.
These kids grab onto the back of the semis in order to avoid having to peddle uphill. Smart and ballsy. I like it.
Parking in the living room of our hostel in Popayan.
Parking in the living room of our hostel in Popayan.

THURSDAY JULY 25TH – DAY 50 – POPAYAN, COLOMBIA – IPIALES, COLOMBIA

Waking up in Popayan, our day’s journey was a surprise to all of us. The day was full of the most interesting climate changes we have experienced yet. Starting off in a very temperate mountain city we slowly descended down into a desert valley. Cactus. Heat. Dirt. No color. I felt like I was in Northern Mexico all over again. The guy Mac bought his motorcycle from gave us one strong word of advice… After Popayan, DON’T STOP UNTIL YOU GET TO THE BORDER. Well we had to break that rule when Chase got another flat tire. We found the culprit. A fatty nail lodged in the tire, the same nail that popped the last inner tube. While it was getting repaired, Mac and I headed to a nearby restaurant to throw back some cokes. When we sat down there was a group of 4 Colombian military dudes already seated so we started up some friendly banter.

Apparently we stopped in the most dangerous region in Colombia. For those of you unaware, Colombia is in a constant civil war over the control of the mountains in southern Colombia. The FARC is the most well known guerrilla group but the Colombian military is constantly fighting against several groups. They all sell cocaine to other countries in exchange for weapons and ammunition. Apparently the Russians are the ones giving them the majority of the weapons. The army guys said conflict was a constant; in that area more than any other. When I asked them when was the last time they fired their weapons, they thought for a second then responded “9 days ago.” You never would have guessed a place that appeared so mellow would have so much conflict.

I wished our new Colombian army friends good luck in the fight and got back on the road. After a couple hours of desert we started to climb once more through a canyon I’m going to refer to as the Grand Canyon of Colombia. Around every crest the view got more and more absurd. Leaving the canyon, the road turned up the mountain. We climbed to about 10,000 feet, at which point it began to mist, and then drizzle and then rain. We passed through the city of Pasto at the base of a volcano and got our rain gear on but it wasn’t completely adequate (We’re still fine-tuning our rain-preparedness outfits). Wet and freezing, we arrived in Ipiales (9,500 feet), the border town with Ecuador. Chase was purple so he got the first and only hot shower.

The next morning we’d be entering Ecuador if everything went according to plan.

Heading down the mountain from Popayan.
Heading down the mountain from Popayan.
One of many construction zones where we'd have to wait sometimes 15 minutes for the road to be clear.
One of many construction zones where we’d have to wait sometimes 15 minutes for the road to be clear.
Rolling through the desert.
Rolling through the desert.
Chain adjustments en route. We realized the mechanic that put Chase's tire on the night before had tightened his chain too much.
Chain adjustments en route. We realized the mechanic that put Chase’s tire on the night before had tightened his chain too much.
Food break.
Food break.
Photos don't capture the depth or the size of the mountains well at all.
Photos don’t capture the depth or the size of the mountains well at all.
There were several tunnels through the steep mountains
There were several tunnels through the steep mountains
One small portion of the Colombian Grand Canyon.
One small portion of the Colombian Grand Canyon.
Again, the size and height of the walls is difficult to be appreciated in photos.
Again, the size and height of the walls is difficult to be appreciated in photos.

A couple hours after sweating in the desert we hit rain in the mountains and had to suffer for more than an hour before we made it to Ipiales.
A couple hours after sweating in the desert we hit rain in the mountains and had to suffer for more than an hour before we made it to Ipiales.
Purple princess post-rainstorm
Purple princess post-rainstorm

COLOMBIA THE BEAUTIFUL PART 1

LET ME JUST SAY. I LOVE COLOMBIA! THE SCENERY, THE VIBE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE. FOR THE FIRST TIME ON THE TRIP, CHASE AND I SLOWED THINGS DOWN A BIT AS WE WAITED FOR MAC (CHASE´S BROTHER AND ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS) TO FLY INTO MEDELLIN AND JOIN US FOR THE REST OF THE JOURNEY.

SUNDAY JULY 7TH – DAY 32 – SOMEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

After arriving at the docks, Chase and I went straight to the beautiful colonial center of Cartagena where all the hostels are located. We found a cheap one with a nice courtyard, a pool and clean sheets and called it a day. The rest of the day was devoted to relaxing in the pool and emotionally and physically cleansing ourselves from our sea voyage.

Straight to the pool!
Straight to the pool!
Lounging in our Cartagena Hostel.
Lounging in our Cartagena Hostel.
Clean sheets and a great ceiling fan = happiness
Clean sheets and a great ceiling fan = happiness

MONDAY JULY 8TH – DAY 33 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Arriving in a foreign country by sailboat, with a motorcycle, carries with it some customs procedures. Our whole day was practically consumed in getting our passports (with our immigration stamps) back from the captain and then going to the local customs office to get vehicle permits and then the obligatory vehicle insurance.

Lucky for us, somewhere along the line we found two aussies who were doing the same journey on motorcycles. We joined forces for the day and tackled all of the customs hoops together. It was pretty funny swapping stories of our travels. The aussies have found a way to throw out the F-bomb after every other word in a surprisingly charming way. I´ve decided I need to make some more aussie friends when I come home.

A world-class lunch. Chicken, coke and a big ol´bread.
A world-class lunch. Chicken, coke and a big ol´bread.
Walking around Cartagena with the aussies.
Walking around Cartagena with the aussies.
The old colonial portion of the city was awesome. A big portion of the people here were from other countries. It had a great energy.
The old colonial portion of the city was awesome. A big portion of the people here were from other countries. It had a great energy.
Cartagena from one of the boardwalks at night.
Cartagena from one of the boardwalks at night.
Making friends with the locals.
Making friends with the locals.

TUESDAY JULY 9TH – DAY 34 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

More relaxing, resting, chillin. Attempted to clean our rusted chains the best we could. Hung out with some british gals for a good part of the day and enjoyed eating the different foods of Colombia.

When we want a cheap/satisfying brunch. This is what it looks like. Egg sandwhiches, bananas and coke.
When we want a cheap/satisfying brunch. This is what it looks like. Egg sandwhiches, bananas and coke.
Attempting to clean/lube our rusted chains before our journey the next day.
Attempting to clean/lube our rusted chains before our journey the next day.

WEDNESDAY JULY 10TH – DAY 35 – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA – CAUCASIA, COLOMBIA

At this point it had been about a week since we had a full day´s ride and we were both STOKED to see what Colombia had in store for us. 3 days in Cartagena was enough time in one place and we thought we´d wait for Mac in Medellin where we planned on meeting up.

Medellin is famous for a couple reasons, firstly because it was where Pablo Escobar lived during the golden age of cocaine and secondly, because the women here are supposedely the most beautiful in the whole world. You´ve got my attention. The residents don´t like talking about the Pablo Escobar thing but they love to talk about the beauty of the women and their metro system.

But first, getting out of Cartagena was nuts. No other country we´ve been to has so many motorcycles zipping around. They have no respect for space and at one point a motorcyclist behind Chase started nudging his saddlebags to the side in order to move ahead 10 feet at a stop light. After leaving the city, it was a mellow ride through colombian ranches and small towns. We arrived at Caucasia, ate some carne asada and found a hotel for $5 each.

Marshland en route to Caucasia
Marshland en route to Caucasia
typical scenery on the way to Caucasia.
typical scenery on the way to Caucasia.
Pee break in the countryside.
Pee break in the countryside.
Almost at Caucasia
Almost at Caucasia
A pretty typical Colombian meal. Rice, fried banana, salad, a fried egg, and in this case carne asada.
A pretty typical Colombian meal. Rice, fried banana, salad, a fried egg, and in this case carne asada.

THURSDAY JULY 11TH – DAY 36 – CAUCASIA, COLOMBIA – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

Our day started out just like any other here in Latin America… But three seconds after starting my motorcycle, IT DIED. It had rained all night long and I suspected water had gotten somewhere it shouldn´t have. We tried bump starting it and it ran for about 4 seconds before it died again and then wouldn´t start. These are the moments you hope don´t happen while you are in the middle of nowhere. Lucky for us, while trying to push start the bike a car mechanic from a nearby shop invited us to bring the bike into his shop and out of the sun so we could make our necessary repairs. The friendliness and hospitality of the Colombian people is right there with the Mexicans.

The guys in the shop all crowded around trying to guess what the problem was. They were all genuinely interested in helping us out. After the mechanics helped me rule out bad gasoline/water in the carburetor, I had no choice other than to take the carburetor apart piece by piece. After disassembling everything and putting it back together the bike barely managed to start but wouldn´t stay running long. It could have been any number of weird electronical problems from the rain the night before but it seemed to be carb related. Again, I took the carburetor apart and found the vent hose had somehow gotten fried shut so the carburetor was trying to equalize the gas levels by sucking air from the fuel line. I clipped the fried part of the vent hose off, reassembled everything and she started up like nothing had ever happened. 5 hours of frustration and fear of being in Caucasia the rest of my life waiting for electronic pieces ended with a quick snip of the scissors. The guys in the shop were all glad to see we solved the problem and they made us promise to stop by next time we travel through Caucasia. Deal.

Leaving Caucasia around 2 pm we got on the road to Medellin, Colombia. From here the road left the countryside and traveled along a muddy river bigger than the Colorado. After an hour following the river we crossed and started heading up a windy mountain pass. It was BEAUTIFUL! We went from 500 feet above sea level in the morning to above 8000 feet in the afternoon. By nightfall we started the descent into the valley where Medellin is and around 8:30pm we arrived in the city. The lights from the tall buildings at night were incredible.

While we were in Cartagena we had arranged for a place to stay a couple nights through couchsurfing.com. A great guy and motorcycle lover from the city, named Juan, offered to host us. We met him near his home and he then guided us back to his 15 story apartment building on the mountain. Again. The view was incredible.

Breakfast before realizing we were kind of stranded.
Breakfast before realizing we were kind of stranded.
Mid way through taking the entire carburetor apart.
Mid way through taking the entire carburetor apart.
Leaving Caucasia, Hoorah!
Leaving Caucasia, Hoorah!
Riding alongside the Rio Cauca. These little geysers were all over the place. The people live along the river on the left but on the right waterfalls come cascading down the cliffs and the locals use the waterpressure  to clean cars and semis here. The geysers are their form of advertising ¨car wash¨
Riding alongside the Rio Cauca. These little geysers were all over the place. The people live along the river on the left but on the right waterfalls come cascading down the cliffs and the locals use the waterpressure to clean cars and semis here. The geysers are their form of advertising ¨car wash¨
Crossing the muddy Rio Cauca.
Crossing the muddy Rio Cauca.
The view from the highway riding up the mountain to Medellin.
The view from the highway riding up the mountain to Medellin.
We were both pretty stoked to find chicken flavored Lays.
We were both pretty stoked to find chicken flavored Lays.
This entire town seems to have been built completely on a 45 degree angle
This entire town seems to have been built completely on a 45 degree angle
Another angle
Another angle
Arriving in Medellin. City of the eternal spring. The jacket was only necessary for the mountains but once in the city, the weather was perfect 24/7.
Arriving in Medellin. City of the eternal spring. The jacket was only necessary for the mountains but once in the city, the weather was perfect 24/7.

FRIDAY JULY 12TH – DAY 37 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

We woke up the next morning, did our laundry for the first time in a long time and looked through Juan´s Colombian travel books. He was a great resource and had something to say about every motorcycle detour we could possibly make while in Colombia. The three of us ended up going on a nice loop up the southern mountains above Medellin and back down around the other side. Later, we went to our friend Hugo´s house to go swimming with him and his kids. Hugo was the only Colombian aside from the Captain on the “Island Fever.” Hugo, a hostel owner in Panama, is another perfect example of a friendly and hospitable Colombian. He offered to take us down to the Kawasaki dealership the next day to get our rusted chains all sorted out.

Chase splitting one of Juan´s cheesy arepas
Chase splitting one of Juan´s cheesy arepas
The view from Juan´s balcony.
The view from Juan´s balcony.
The start of our loop around the city with Juan.
The start of our loop around the city with Juan.
Climbing the mountain above the city. This road was awesome! It was one lane, one direction. It felt kinda like a disneyland ride.
Climbing the mountain above the city. This road was awesome! It was one lane, one direction. It felt kinda like a disneyland ride.
In the mountains above the city.
In the mountains above the city.
Heading back down the mountain.
Heading back down the mountain.
Oh, Medellin!
Oh, Medellin!
Pit stop with Juan
Pit stop with Juan
The view from the mountain above the city.
The view from the mountain above the city.
This is after I told them to go easy on the sauce.
This is after I told them to go easy on the sauce.
Dinner with Juan at a local restaurant.
Dinner with Juan at a local restaurant.

SATURDAY JULY 13TH – DAY 38 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

We met Hugo once again at his house at 9am and then followed him around as he asked neighbors for a motorcycle and a helmet to borrow. haha an hour later we were en route to the Kawasaki dealership. It was heaven. Everything we needed and more. We got bought a chain and had another that we already had put on free of charge and bought some new motorcycle oil. We found a hostel to stay at that night and then met up with Juan again, who took us to a friend´s motorcycle shop so we´d have a place to change our oil and throw out the old stuff. After getting back to our new hostel, we showered and got ready for what Hugo promised would be an incredible night on the town. Around 10pm Hugo showed up with his cousin, Luisa and his ex-wife. Paola (argentina), Jan and Evit (slovakia) from our sailing adventure also showed up and we walked a few blocks to the party district. We ended up salsa-bar hopping til about 2am. Me and Chase were both pooped. Paisas (the nickname for people from Medellin) usually go til dawn. At 2am the streets looked like they were still getting busier. I´d never seen anything like it. It was just a normal saturday but it looked like spring break in some party town. Getting back to the hostel we went straight to bed.

Following Hugo to the Kawasaki dealership.
Following Hugo to the Kawasaki dealership.
Love this place. I don´t blame Pablo Escobar for not wanting to get extrodited from this gorgeous city.
Love this place. I don´t blame Pablo Escobar for not wanting to get extrodited from this gorgeous city.
A REAL KAWASAKI DEALERSHIP! Getting the new chains put on.
A REAL KAWASAKI DEALERSHIP! Getting the new chains put on.
With Juan after we changed out our oil at his friend´s shop.
With Juan after we changed out our oil at his friend´s shop.
Look! They´re breakdance fighting!
Look! They´re breakdance fighting!
Our nightly routine here in Medellin. 2 pizzas, 2 hot dogs and 2 drinks.
Our nightly routine here in Medellin. 2 pizzas, 2 hot dogs and 2 drinks.
Photographic evidence to future posterity that I, Aron Procuniar, went salsa dancing in Colombia with one of the locals. Chase had a nice go with the lovely lady in the foreground.
Photographic evidence to future posterity that I, Aron Procuniar, went salsa dancing in Colombia with one of the locals. Chase had a nice go with the lovely lady in the foreground.
Enjoying the Medellin night life with some of our friends from the boat and Hugo´s ex-wife and his cousin, Luisa. Hugo is the one sitting next to Chase.
Enjoying the Medellin night life with some of our friends from the boat and Hugo´s ex-wife and his cousin, Luisa. Hugo is the one sitting next to Chase.

SUNDAY JULY 14TH – DAY 39 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

Early that morning we woke up for church. About a mile away from our hostel. We came back to our hostel and met up with Paola, our Argentine friend from the sailing adventure, for a day trip to La Piedra del Peñol. A big fatty rock that is “a must see” while in Medellin. Again, we cruised through the mountains above Medellin and then into the Colombian countryside where all the rich folks have their summer homes. The rock was big. It was black. And we climbed it. We ended up dropping Paola off in a town near the rock and headed back to Medellin.

We came back just as it was getting dark and snaked our way through heavy traffic. That night Medellin was playing Bogota in an annual soccer rivalry game. Everyone was wearing green and going nuts. We watched part of the game but it ended up being 0-0…

Paola and I arriving at La Piedra del Peñol. Here´s a fun fact.. It´s illegal to have two men ride on a motorycle together in Medellin. This was where Pablo Escobar had his headquarters and apparently many of the shootings/killings occured from two men on one motorcycle. So the police banned it. Apparently, it has helped with violence. Pretty interesting though that women are fine but men aren´t. That would never fly in the US.
Paola and I arriving at La Piedra del Peñol. Here´s a fun fact.. It´s illegal to have two men ride on a motorycle together in Medellin. This was where Pablo Escobar had his headquarters and apparently many of the shootings/killings occured from two men on one motorcycle. So the police banned it. Apparently, it has helped with violence. Pretty interesting though that women are fine but men aren´t. That would never fly in the US.
Riding up to the ¨rock with the best view in the world¨
Riding up to the ¨rock with the best view in the world¨
Paola, stoked for the climb!
Paola, stoked for the climb!
Almost there! The rock looked over one of Colombia´s biggest artificial lakes.
Almost there! The rock looked over one of Colombia´s biggest artificial lakes.
740 stairs later. WE ARRIVED!
740 stairs later. WE ARRIVED!
The three of us on top of La Piedra del Peñol.
The three of us on top of La Piedra del Peñol.
We can´t get enough of this beautiful city!
We can´t get enough of this beautiful city!

MONDAY JULY 15TH – DAY 40 – MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA

I just received word that Mac will arrive tomorrow night at 7:04 pm here in Medellin International Airport. At which point, our South American party tour can really get started!

CROSSING THE DARIEN GAP

IT IS A LITTLE KNOWN FACT THAT THERE ARE NO ROADS FROM PANAMA TO COLOMBIA. IN SOUTHERN PANAMA THE PANAMERICAN HIGHWAY ENDS AT THE DARIEN GAP—150 MILES OF DENSE RAINFOREST, SWAMPS, INDIGENOUS TRIBES, DRUG SMUGGLERS AND GUERRILLA REBELS. THE PANAMERICAN HIGHWAY PICKS BACK UP AGAIN IN SOUTH AMERICA BUT GETTING THERE ON A MOTORCYCLE PROVED INTERESTING.

WEDNESDAY JULY 3RD – DAY 28 – PANAMA CITY, PANAMA – COLON, PANAMA – 24 DE DICIEMBRE, PANAMA

After spending a couple days in the heart of Panama City waiting for a new sprocket and researching our next move we decided to head to Colon, Panama to find a boat captain to take us to Colombia. The journey from the Pacific city of Panama City to Colon on the caribbean side was a quick 45 minutes from one ocean to the other. Arriving in Colon we realized we didn’t want to stay in Colon. Dirty slums in a dirty port city. The whole place felt like it was rotting. We spent several hours asking around trying to find out where the small boat captains leave from Panama to Colombia. Every time we’d get to a dock they’d turn us around and tell us we were in the wrong spot. Our plan to find a crappy supply boat to Colombia wasn’t working out well.

After several hours of frustration I called a captain of a “beautiful sailing yacht,” that according to a local hostel was leaving that day or the next day from a nearby port. Normally these fancy sailing expeditions cost $500/person plus another $400 for the bike. When I called up the captain I told him we could be anywhere he wanted within the day but our budget was $1200 total between the two of us. He was super hesitant but he accepted and gave us explicit directions on what we were to do the next 12 hours in order to get to his boat.

It was about 4pm when I made the phone call and that day we needed to arrive in a suburb of Panama City a couple hours away. We backtracked towards Panama City and headed south towards the Darien Gap. Our soon-to-be boat captain had told us to look for a hotel in a city called “24 de diciembre.” Just as we were approaching the city and about to ask somebody for some info, an older guy in his 50s pulls up next to me during a stoplight on a little motorscooter. Our conversation went something like this…

Old dude- “where you guys going?”

Me- “we’re looking for the 24th of december, we need a hotel”

Old dude- “oh ya, you just arrived, this is it. Do you want to come stay with me?”

Me- “SURE!”

The light turns green, he kicks his bike into first and makes a charging left hand turn through traffic. Here we go!

We quickly arrived at his house which looked like an old hotel that at some point became a house. When we pulled up, his wife and adopted daughter were there to greet us. The mysterious motoscooter driver introduced himself as Israel Gonzalez. He sat us down in his kitchen, shared Panamanian civil war stories, fed us, put sweet 80s music videos on TV for us watch, and gave us an old musty mattress to sleep on. He is one of the most interesting people I’ve met… he’s a hotel chef/police negotiator/surveillance camera technician/Hare Krishna lover/war veteran/photographer. But I was mainly interested in hearing about the Panamanian civil war. He had photos, war memorabilia, and a very sharp memory. We went to bed after drinking some banana smoothies and watching old 80s music videos from a broken TV.

Finishing up our motorcycle repairs in Panama City
Finishing up our motorcycle repairs in Panama City
Heading out towards Colon
Heading out towards Colon
On the caribbean side of Panama it started getting swampy.
On the caribbean side of Panama it started getting swampy.
More jungly/marsh
More jungly/marsh
Colon, Panama
Colon, Panama
Watching the sun set away from the Pacific Ocean felt wrong
Watching the sun set away from the Pacific Ocean felt wrong
Heading back to Panama City
Heading back to Panama City
Panama City. Again.
Panama City. Again.
The mysterious motoscooter man!
The mysterious motoscooter man!
Israel´s house.  I´m holding up Panama´s ex-dictator´s (noriega) ash tray. But really we just wanted an excuse to take a picture of his living room.
Israel´s house. I´m holding up Panama´s ex-dictator´s (noriega) ash tray. But really we just wanted an excuse to take a picture of his living room.
Israel wanted us to put on these hats for the picture. He had an eye for fashion.
Israel wanted us to put on these hats for the picture. He had an eye for fashion.
Dinner! The little brown ball at the top middle is like a potato thing that grows from palm trees. The top right was our favorite, shellfish served on fried bananas!
Dinner! The little brown ball at the top middle is like a potato thing that grows from palm trees. The top right was our favorite, shellfish served on fried bananas!

THURSDAY JULY 4TH (INDEPENDENCE DAY) – DAY 29 – 24 DE DICIEMBRE, PANAMA – SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA

The next morning we woke up at 5:45 am so we could arrive at the docks in time for our boat. Even at 5:45 am Israel was ready for us. He fed us breakfast, then all in one moment he turned on some loud mariachi music, lit some ear-splitting fireworks and started shouting “Happy Independence Day!!!!” My most memorable 4th of July yet.

We said goodbye, thanked our gracious hosts and got on the road to Carti, Panama. After a true rollercoasteresque road through the Panamanian rainforest we arrived at some dumpy docks in Carti, Panama. From there we had to load our motorcycles onto a small motorboat and ride 30 minutes straddling our babies until we could load them onto the bigger sailboat that would take us the 250 miles to Cartagena, Colombia. When we arrived at our smaller-than-advertised sailboat (named the “Island Fever”)we discovered the Captain wasn’t on board. So, we went to the nearest island to find him, picked him up and then returned to the sailboat where we watched in horror as our motorcycles were winched slowly over the Atlantic Ocean from the small motorboat to the sailboat. An hour-and-a-half after we left Carti, both bikes were onboard the Island Fever. At this point the scummy motorboat “captain” says $150 for the trouble… It was a complete scam. We ended up settling for $120. We later heard from other motorcycle travelers they were charged $30 for the same service.

The rest of the day was devoted to sailing about leisurely through the BEAUTIFUl San Blas Islands. We ended up anchoring near a small island and went snorkeling in the warm, 100+ feet visibility caribbean water. Our shipmates included 4 Argentines, 2 Frenchmen, 2 Colombians, 1 Panamanian, and 2 slovaks. Our captain, a Colombian named Jorge, in my opinion was just a pirate with a charismatic and friendly disposition. Honesty and transparency weren’t really part of his “code” though as we later discovered.

We all soon realized the boat was way too small for the 13 people we had on board. And there wasn’t enough food either. During the course of the trip we all got pretty comfortable sharing waterbottles, beds, germs, and any personal privacy. The First night, however, we were all excited and optimistic about the voyage. That changed the next day…

Waking up at 5:45am in Israel´s Palace.
Waking up at 5:45am in Israel´s Palace.
Breakfast! Cereal with nachos and a tortilla/pancake thing with cheese.
Breakfast! Cereal with nachos and a tortilla/pancake thing with cheese.
the first half of our BEAUTIFUL ride out to Carti, Panama
the first half of our BEAUTIFUL ride out to Carti, Panama
A rollercoaster all the way to the Caribbean. It´s hard to tell but the Caribbean was perfectly visible from here.
A rollercoaster all the way to the Caribbean. It´s hard to tell but the Caribbean was perfectly visible from here.
Calling up Captain Jorge´s recommended motorboater. We should have found our own motorboater!
Calling up Captain Jorge´s recommended motorboater. We should have found our own motorboater!
With the strength of 15 old men we were able to get the bikes onboard the motorboat.
With the strength of 15 old men we were able to get the bikes onboard the motorboat.
Oh just riding motorcycles through the Caribbean Islands. On our way to the Island Fever
Oh just riding motorcycles through the Caribbean Islands. On our way to the Island Fever
A decent shot to show how precarious our motorcycles were perched on this little boat.
A decent shot to show how precarious our motorcycles were perched on this little boat.
Jorge made me take the wheel so he could go flirt with the Argentine chicks. I didn´t mind!
Jorge made me take the wheel so he could go flirt with the Argentine chicks. I didn´t mind!
Sailing for the San Blas Islands
Sailing for the San Blas Islands
Arriving in Paradise. Banana hammocks included!
Arriving in Paradise. Banana hammocks included!
We finally arrived at one of those places where computer companies take photos for screensavers!
We finally arrived at one of those places where computer companies take photos for screensavers!
Downtime. This became a much more common sight once we left the protection of the San Blas Island Reef
Downtime. This became a much more common sight once we left the protection of the San Blas Island Reef
Our crew. Captain Jorge was hiding somewhere. maybe stealing my rain jacket.
Our crew. Captain Jorge was hiding somewhere. maybe stealing my rain jacket.

FRIDAY JULY 5TH – DAY 30 – SAN BLAS ISLANDS, PANAMA – SOMEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN

Leaving the absolute “screensaver paradise” of the San Blas Islands we passed through the protecting reefs and entered into the open sea. 10 minutes later I had to lie down. I always thought sea sickness was for ninnys. I guess it’s for me and Chase…and everyone else on board too. The waves were a solid 7-8 feet high and the boat didn’t really do a good job of cutting through it.

For just about all of the day I had to lie on my back in order to feel somewhat normal. haha It wasn’t the sailing adventure I hoped for.

SATURDAY JULY 6TH – DAY 31 – SOMEWHERE IN THE CARIBBEAN – SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE CARIBBEAN

Day 2 at sea. Nothing in sight. no land. no other boats. just us and the ocean.

At some point in the afternoon we both started feeling better and were able to eat comfortably as long as we stared directly at the horizon. The day’s highlight included seeing some whales and going for a swim in water so blue it seemed to glow. Meanwhile, our arrival date for that afternoon came and went. According to the captain; bad wind, bad current, bad waves.

Towards sunset I thought I had tackled seasickness but the wind started blowing and the waves started getting bigger. I had to throw myself on the back bed again as winds got up to 60 mph and waves reached 15 feet. The boat literally got airborne every time we went over a wave. At one point a wave crashed right over the whole boat and reached all the way to the rear hatch getting the 4 of us on the back bed wet. haha under any other conditions I would have LOVED the thrill of being in heavy seas. But sea sickness takes the fun away. That, and food running out halfway through the day.

Day 3 of the voyage. Finally able to enjoy the sunset sitting down during a calm moment
Day 3 of the voyage. Finally able to enjoy the sunset sitting down during a calm moment

SUNDAY JULY 7TH – DAY 32 – SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE CARIBBEAN – CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

As morning arrived we woke up to the first land we’d seen in more than 48 hours. We arrived in Cartagena, Colombia around 8 am and everyone sprinted to get off the boat. Next it was the motorcycles’ turn. According to our beloved captain, who had told me originally over the phone that the onload and offload fees were 30-40 bucks, it was illegal to unload the motorcycles onto the dock. So that was going to be $100 to the dock workers. It was all a load of BS, he was way too friendly with the dock guys. Before I knew it, a huge group of dudes grabbed our bikes and loaded them onto the docks. No more price negotiation.

I suspect the outrageous onload and offload fees with his buddies were his way of trying to charge us more than $600 each (which he constantly reminded me was an incredible deal!) I also blame him for stealing my $13.50 rain jacket!

On a happier note. We met a couple australian dudes that paid $1050 total to cross from Panama to Colombia. At least we didn’t come out that bad…

Back on land, Chase and I suddenly had sea legs and everything felt like it was moving. We ate the first thing we could get our hands on, examined our now completely rusted chains and set off to find a place to stay while we waited on our immigration papers. Not before we took a moment to gloat in the fact that we had ACTUALLY arrived in South America with two working motorcycles!

Arriving in Cartagena! Beautiful city!
Arriving in Cartagena! Beautiful city!

CENTRAL AMERICA

ALMOST 6,000 MILES ON THE ODOMETER. OUR SPRINT THROUGH CENTRAL AMERICA WAS A SHORT ACTION PACKED THRILLER WITH RAIN, TRAFFIC, MUD, BEACHES, VOLCANOES, ONE VERY LARGE FAMOUS CANAL AND NEVER-ENDING CUSTOMS PROCEDURES.

MONDAY JUNE 24TH – DAY 19 – PALENQUE, MEXICO – HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA (CONTINUED)

First impressions of Guatemala..Similar to Mexico but everything is twice as old, everyone is twice as poor, the mountains are twice as steep and the roads are twice as crappy. Mexico has an upper class and a lower class, it seems like Guatemala only has the lower class.

The border turned out to be a lot easier than I imagined. Everything was straight forward. We got back our $300 deposit on our motorcycles, stamped out of Mexico, got our bikes fumigated for a few bucks, paid a couple bucks to enter ourselves and another 20 for our bikes. Again, not a very popular border crossing. No one wants to go to Guatemala apparently. In the hour and a half we were there, we didn’t see a single car or bus pass through. haha does everyone know something we don’t?

After the crossing it was almost dark and we broke the cardinal rule of driving at night for about an hour. At one point I asked a police officer how far to the next town. His response, “Well, it depends on how fast your motorcycle is.” haha No speed limits. Good to know. We found the first city Huehuetenango and we soon realized… we like Guatemala! We paid $3.98 each for a private hotel room and then $4.50 for a dinner sufficient for a 400 lb. lucha libre wrestler. The family that ran the restaurant didn’t know where California was but they knew how to throw together a GIANT bowl of chicken soup.

Side note: The tortillas here are fatter and DELICIOUS!

We went to bed quite content.

changing out pesos for guatemalan quetzals. This dude tried to pull a fast one on me when he counted 12 pesos as 10. Not happening to this Gringo! I did the rest of the counting.
changing out pesos for guatemalan quetzals. This dude tried to pull a fast one on me when he counted 12 pesos as 10. Not happening to this Gringo! I did the rest of the counting.
The picture doesn´t get close to capturing the size of the steep cliffs on both sides of the highway.
The picture doesn´t get close to capturing the size of the steep cliffs on both sides of the highway.
First meal in Guatemala. Biggest and cheapest yet!
First meal in Guatemala. Biggest and cheapest yet!
$3.98. don´t mind if I do. The downside was the questionable bodily fluids all over the wall next to me.
$3.98. don´t mind if I do. The downside was the questionable bodily fluids all over the wall next to me.

TUESDAY JUNE 25TH – DAY 20 – HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA – JALPATAGUA, GUATEMALA

We woke up the next morning and returned to our new favorite family restaurant for some big cheap eatin’. Then we hit the road for the El Salvadorian border. We soon realized how daunting a task this would become. Crappy roads, construction stops and thousands of unexpected speed bumps kept our speed down to a crawl. The terrain in Guatemala was not as I expected though. It was for the most part it was extremely high mountains with loosely populated indigenous villages strewn about all over the place. Our one detour of the day was visiting Lake Atitlan, we didn’t have much time to appreciate it though. Chase and I both agree that of all the Central American countries we would have liked to have had more time in, Guatemala takes the cake. There’s a lot to see. After our bodies couldn’t take anymore speed bumps and an approaching thunderstorm threatened our warm-blooded bodies we pulled over to find a hotel. $6 each for a private room and found good food across the street for $1.50.

Cruising at 9,000 feet
Cruising at 9,000 feet
Getting ready to go through the clouds.
Getting ready to go through the clouds.
Oh.. the road is closed. That explains why the whole town came out to the highway to sell drinks, treats, and trinkets during the 30 minute wait.
Oh.. the road is closed. That explains why the whole town came out to the highway to sell drinks, treats, and trinkets during the 30 minute wait.
Arriving at Lake Atitlan through solola
Arriving at Lake Atitlan through solola
Lake Atitlan. Two volcanoes and a huge lake surrounded by cities named after the twelve apostles.
Lake Atitlan. Two volcanoes and a huge lake surrounded by cities named after the twelve apostles.
Another angle of Lake Atitlan
Another angle of Lake Atitlan
Our first river crossing of the trip. A success.
Our first river crossing of the trip. A success. We discovered that my GPS wasn’t exactly accurate in Guatemala the second we left the highway. It had all sorts of roads that didn’t exist and we ended up taking some roads less traveled by.
A typical Guatemalan city
A typical Guatemalan city
Guatemala City coming into sight.
Guatemala City coming into sight.
Looking out on some of the prettiest scenery we've seen here in Guatemala.
Looking out on some of the prettiest scenery we’ve seen here in Guatemala.
It started pouring rain and flooded our first room. So they upgraded us to the nice room.
It started pouring rain and flooded our first room. So they upgraded us to the nice room.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 26TH – DAY 21 – JALPATAGUA, GUATEMALA – EL SALVADOR – CHOLUTECA, HONDURAS

Getting on our bikes in the morning, we were only 15 minutes away from the el salvadorian border. The plan- complete 2 border crossings and travel all the way through El Salvador in one day. The border crossing was a little longer when there were “problems” with Chase’s paperwork. We arrived on the El Salvadorian side to pay $10 for insurance. When I asked what it covered, the stoic government lady simply says, “if you die, your family gets $4000.” hahaha oh. GREAT! I tried to not laugh out loud at her response, but I couldn’t help it.

My observations of El Salvador are as follows. Lots of Volcanoes, lava rock fields, great roads (the panamerican highway is well developed in El Salvador, If there is a Panamerican highway in Guatemala, we never found it), and lots of farmland/deforestation. The highway is littered with Papusa shops, we stopped at a cafeteria and ate their 1/2-inch thick tortillas. DELICIOUS!! They also use the dollar, that’s nice too. We made great time on the highway and within several hours we arrived at the honduran border.

From here I’ll go into what a typical Central American border crossing is like. I’ll describe our El Salvador-Honduras experience, but all are about the same.

For about 1/4-mile leading up to the border there’s people sitting around. Sometimes in shops, sometimes on the streets. When we come into sight, half of these people perk up and start waving their arms wildly for us to come talk to them. For the most part they are “border helpers”. At the beginning of the 1/4-mile frenzy a guy practically throws himself in front of my bike. I have to swerve to avoid him and then watch him sprint the 1/4-mile in my rear-view mirror. hahaha. When we make it to the government customs building generally we are immediately swarmed by people offering to do all our paperwork for a small tip or by people who offer to change out the old currency for the new one. When the sprinter finally arrived at the pack I felt kind of bad for him, he couldn’t even get his words out because he was so winded. Then I have to sternly say to all of them “we don’t need help! We’ve done this before, thanks but no thanks, go away please.” Some don’t believe me and they start guiding us through to the right buildings. I have to tell them things like “I promise you, I’m not going to pay you anything, don’t waste your time.” They usually give up after a few minutes when they realize we’re competent gringos. First we stamp ourselves out of the country we started in, cancel our vehicle permits and then stamp in to the new country and get new vehicle permits and/or insurance.

During the process there’s a series of 20 police/border agents that check your stuff along the way. Just as we get to the bridge to cross into Nicaragua a Honduran police officer starts pointing at dates on Chase’s motorcycle title that relate to his old registration that were expired. He was a worthless excuse for a human being. he grabs the title and says “Oh if you don’t need it then i’ll keep it.” So I had to explain how California titles and registration work. This thug thought if he could catch us doing something illegal he could force a bribe out of us to get the title back. His little scheme failed. When I didn’t back down he finally relinquished the title and then asked me to give him my boots. haha I wanted to throw him off the bridge.

Assaulted with more helpers on the Honduran side and slow moving border agents we spent $35 to enter with our motorcycles and hit the road for the nearest city. We arrived in Choluteca and since we needed money for dinner, a hotel and breakfast the next morning we took out $10 each. 🙂 love it.

My observations of Honduras. Similar to other Central American countries in most respects. As poor as Guatemala but without all the indigenous culture. Roads were the worst we’ve seen in the whole trip and maybe for the same reason, NO ONE has cars, they all walk.

We found a hotel that fell within our $10 24-hour budget and hit the hay.

45 minutes waiting for a "problem" with Chase's paperwork to be resolved. For about 44 minutes I thought we might not make it to El Salvador..
45 minutes waiting for a “problem” with Chase’s paperwork to be resolved. For about 44 minutes I thought we might not make it to El Salvador..
The El Salvadorian side of the border
The El Salvadorian side of the border
Chase'n volcanoes
Chase’n volcanoes
Volcanoes everywhere!!
Volcanoes everywhere!!
Crossing through "the savior"
Crossing through “the savior”
Lava rock fields
Lava rock fields
Smog regulations aren't really mandatory. This isn't even a bad smoke cloud.
Smog regulations aren’t really mandatory. This isn’t even a bad smoke cloud.
My arms after a few days without a shower and getting stuck behind the aforementioned smoke clouds. My hands were freshly washed and my arms are no less tan than the part of my arm on the far right. The dirt in every one of my poors and stuck to all my hairs could only have been appreciated in person. I wonder what my lungs look like..
My arms after a few days without a shower and getting stuck behind the aforementioned smoke clouds. My hands were freshly washed and my arms are no less tan than the part of my arm on the far right. The dirt in every one of my poors and stuck to all my hairs could only have been appreciated in person. I wonder what my lungs look like..
El Salvador.. typical sight, big green stuff and volcanoes.
El Salvador.. typical sight, big green stuff and volcanoes.
Passing into Honduras. We'd seen those little trike taxi-cabs were all over the place in the small cities since Puerto Escondido.
Passing into Honduras. We’d seen those little trike taxi-cabs all over the place in the small cities since Puerto Escondido.
This photo makes Honduras look pretty. It wasn't.
This photo makes Honduras look pretty. It wasn’t.
On the way to Choluteca, Honduras
On the way to Choluteca, Honduras
Chase's helmet after a 15 minute bug-mine-field. I had my dark visor mounted so I had to wear my light sunglasses to see in the dark. I couldn't wait for a picture to get the bugs out of my face when we stopped.
Chase’s helmet after a 15 minute bug-mine-field. I had my dark visor mounted so I had to wear my light sunglasses to see in the dark. I couldn’t wait the extra 5 seconds for chase to take a pic of me.. I had to debugify right when we stopped.
Stopping for directions and a horribly drawn map to navigate the city.
Stopping for directions and a horribly drawn map to navigate the city.
Treating ourselves to something nice for a job well done.
Treating ourselves to something nice for a job well done. Fried egg, beans, chicken, rice and cheese w/tortillas of course.
$5 each for a room the size of a 3 car garage.
$5 each for a room the size of a 3 car garage.

THURSDAY JUNE 27TH – DAY 22 – CHOLUTECA, HONDURAS – NICARAGUA – LA CRUZ, COSTA RICA

Waking up it was an hour or so to the Nicaraguan border. Another day. Another 2 border crossings and one entire country knocked off our list.

We both recognize that at this speed we can’t ‘truly’ appreciate a country. It’s true. But in this way we’ll have more time to appreciate South America.

Our grand exit from Honduras was marked with 2-foot-deep pot hole mine fields littering the highway. I felt like a skier going through the moguls. It was pretty interesting to look ahead and see oncoming semis swerving left and right into your lane to avoid the potholes. Crossing into Nicaragua was pretty uneventful. Similar to all the others.

My observations of Nicaragua. The people have enough money to buy bicycles, Honduras NO. More Volcanoes, more green stuff everywhere, and big lakes. We didn’t make any real detours through Nicaragua. In part because we were stopped on three occasions by corrupt police officers pulling retarded infractions out of their butts. I was so annoyed, I just wanted to get to Costa Rica. The first stop was just a “routine stop” they held us while they thought of something we did wrong but they came up blank. The second stop was for chase following the car in front of him too closely. I didn’t get all the info from the cop BUT I WAS IN FRONT OF HIM. The cop started out at $100 and then I came back to see what his deal was. I laughed at him and threw him a $20 and we got on our way. The third stop occured when I saw our fellow travelers we met on the Baja Ferry on the highway. I pulled up nearer to their SUV and honked my horn; in my excitement I wasn’t watching for the freaking POE-POES. $10 and a whole bunch of stern warnings and fake threats from the cop and we were on our way. I was glad to get to Costa Rica. $35 for insurance and we were set loose in the country. We stopped at the nearest city and soon discovered, everything is practically American prices. This is the worst country of them all! Chase and I reminisced about our beloved Guatemala after paying $12 each for the crappiest hotel of the trip.

Getting swarmed with the local "bike watchers" at the Nicaraguan border before I could even get my helmet off.
Getting swarmed with the local “bike watchers” at the Nicaraguan border before I could even get my helmet off.
The smoking Volcano Masaya
The smoking Volcano Masaya
Standing on the shores of Lake Managua
Standing on the shores of Lake Managua
Standing on the shores of Lake Nicaragua
Standing on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, ..pretty similar to Lake Managua but BIGGER
Standing in the doorway of the Police Outpost awaiting the jury...a short, fat corrupt nicaraguan cop.
Standing in the doorway of the Police Outpost awaiting the jury…a short, fat corrupt nicaraguan cop.
Meeting up with our fellow traveler friends we met on the ferry to Mainland Mexico.
Meeting up with our fellow traveler friends we met on the ferry to Mainland Mexico.

FRIDAY JUNE 28TH – DAY 23 – LA CRUZ, COSTA RICA – JACO, COSTA RICA

BEST first half of the day followed by the WORST. First thing in the morning we took a road prohibited to all vehicles except those with “extreme off-road” capabilities. We traveled 10 miles through the santa rosa national park to the a surf spot called “witch’s rock.” We didn’t have surfboards, so it was the off-road journey to the beach that motivated our quest. A few hours traveling through the jungle and swimming in a pristine and isolated beach was a fantastic detour.

We got back on the road only to get caught in a never-ending downpour. It started out uncomfortable in the warm weather but by the second hour it became a mind game of blocking out the pain. Our original plan was to make it to a beach where we could camp, but the rain soaked our camp gear and with it our hopes of camping comfortably. At a gas station we decided to call it quits and headed for a nearby coastal town called Jaco. It turned out to be a great stop. Jaco is a little surf town that seems to thrive entirely on foreign surfers. We got a cheap hotel and I paid $5 bucks for a board to use the next morning.

On our way to Witch's Rock
On our way to Witch’s Rock
Costa Rican Jungle cruisin'
Costa Rican Jungle cruisin’
One of several river crossings
One of several river crossings
Paving a new path around the trees
Paving a new path around the trees
Lovin the mud after thousands of highway miles.
Lovin the mud after thousands of highway miles.
It was a lot deeper than it looked. Thanks to the park ranger and his ATV we survived
It was a lot deeper than it looked. Thanks to the park ranger and his ATV we survived
The swamp that got me.
The swamp that got me.
Staring down a dinosaur. These Iguanas were all over the place.
Staring down a dinosaur. These Iguanas were all over the place.
Chase (Iguana Hunter)
Chase (Iguana Hunter)
All to ourselves. This is one of the beaches where the turtles show up in thousands to lay their eggs.
All to ourselves. This is one of the beaches where the turtles show up in thousands to lay their eggs.
After almost 2 hours of riding through the "rain" forest.
After almost 2 hours of riding through the “rain” forest.
Checking the conditions for the morning surf in another luxurious hotel.
Checking the conditions for the morning surf in another luxurious hotel.

SATURDAY JUNE 29TH – DAY 24 – JACO, COSTA RICA – DAVID, PANAMA

I woke up to glassy head high beachbreak and surfed for about 3 hours with just one german to keep me company. The waves were great, but the water was a little dirty from a river dumping poop a few hundred yards away. That might have been my undoing.

After Chase slept in and I had my fill of waves, we set off for Panama. The road was beautiful! The highway curved along with the Costa Rican beaches on one side and the jungle on the other. Other than that nothing of special importance during the ride. The Panamanian border crossing was the longest and most complicated yet. Somewhere during the border steps I felt my stomach feel funny. And then I knew. The next few hours or days would be unpleasant. We stopped in David, Panama and got some street hamburgers and spent the night at a hostal. I dreamt that I was sick and I woke up the next morning to see my dream come true.

Cruisin down the '1' of Costa Rica
Cruisin down the ‘1’ of Costa Rica
Costa Rican highway
Costa Rican highway
ONE second before the deluge
ONE second before another deluge
They call cheap little eateries "sodas" here in Costa Rica.
They call cheap little eateries “sodas” here in Costa Rica.
Getting our bearings during one of our many construction stops.
Getting our bearings during one of our many construction stops.
Palm trees for dayz
Palm trees for dayz
Checking out of Costa Rica
Checking out of Costa Rica
The beginning of our 3 hour Panamanian entry
The beginning of our 3 hour Panamanian entry
Rainy border crossings aren't any fun... unless you've got a cocunut.
Rainy border crossings aren’t any fun… unless you’ve got a cocunut.
Chase sporting our team's warm-ups (new rain gear).  We stopped at the 'free trade zone' between panama and costa rica and paid $13.50 for these bad boys. They work better than our 'nice' jackets.
Chase sporting our team’s warm-ups (new rain gear). We stopped at the ‘free trade zone’ between panama and costa rica and paid $13.50 for these bad boys. They work better than our ‘nice’ jackets.
Panamanian street hamburgers. DELICIOUS!
Panamanian street hamburgers. DELICIOUS!
Our luxurious dormroom accomodations
Our luxurious dormroom accomodations

SUNDAY JUNE 30TH – DAY 25 – DAVID, PANAMA – SANTIAGO, PANAMA

That morning we went to Church, just 10 blocks away from our hostal and then I felt like the grim reaper had me in his clutches. Extreme fatigue and achiness, accompanied with the usual intestinal problems. I had a gnarly fever too so I went back to the hostal to take a nap. Waking up, I felt surpisingly better but everytime I exerted myself in anyway I felt like crap. We got on the road anyways and made it to Santiago, Panama when Chase’s bike started trembling under acceleration. It should have been an easy diagnosis but in my sick and exhausted haze it took me awhile to notice that his rear sprocket was totally obliterated. So there we were…on the side of the road in the rain. Changing a sprocket (We brought an extra, because boyscouts are always prepared) while my body felt as if it suddenly aged 70 years. It’s a memory I will hold dear to my heart. We got everything sorted out and had to spend the night in the same city.

some panamanian splendor
some panamanian splendor
more panamanian splendor
more panamanian splendor
and more.
and more.
and more.
and more.
Out with the old & in with the new.
Out with the old & in with the new.
Badly beaten with sickness and motorcycle problems. Our disgusting chinese hotel was harder to enjoy.
Badly beaten with sickness and motorcycle problems. Our disgusting chinese hotel was harder to enjoy.

MONDAY JULY 1ST – DAY 26 – SANTIAGO, PANAMA – PANAMA CITY

Feeling just as crappy as the day before we set off for Panama City. We needed to get another spare sprocket now for my bike which looked like it only had a few hundred miles left on the sprocket. Poor chain maintenance had cost us a bit. We crossed the Panama Canal and took a little detour to get as close as we could before we entered the city to begin our hunt for a sprocket for a bike that isn’t really sold outside the US. It was quite a hopeless endeavour but we found one that was almost identical except it didn’t have 8 screw holes, it had 6. So we went to a machine shop to get it redrilled. We stopped later at La Casa de Carmen, a well-known hostal here in the city. Most of the guys here are from Jamaica or the Carribean. More than anything it was nice to have a place to lay down while in my sickly state.

Onwards to Panama City
Onwards to Panama City
Quick pit stop at an eastern facing Pacific Ocean beach. no waves.
Quick pit stop at an eastern facing Pacific Ocean beach. no waves.
the pretty sand on the same beach.
the pretty sand on the same beach.
30 mins outside of Panama City
30 mins outside of Panama City
The Centennial Bridge crossing over the Panama Canal
The Centennial Bridge crossing over the Panama Canal
Crossing over the Panama Canal!
Crossing over the Panama Canal!
The Canal in action. The locks were a little further to the left.
The Canal in action. The locks were a little further to the left.
Coming into Panama City
Coming into Panama City
Part of our neverending search through the city for a sprocket.
Part of our neverending search through the city for a sprocket.
We found some random dude that was willing to take us to the Kawasaki Dealership. It was a little difficult to keep up. Here he is zipping through same tamer streets on his 150cc motorcycle. Chase is getting pretty good at taking action pics on the bike!
We found some random dude that was willing to take us to the Kawasaki Dealership. It was a little difficult to keep up. Here he is zipping through same tamer streets on his 150cc motorcycle. Chase is getting pretty good at taking action pics on the bike!

At the moment I’m still trying to get the sprocket thing fixed on my bike; the guy that drilled the holes did a poor job and I need him to re-do it. We hope to leave for Colon, Colombia today to find a boat captain to take us to Colombia for a cheap price. It is the second day here waiting on sickness, sprockets, other random mechanical problems and boat captain responses, etc. Aside from that we’ve just been chillin with the Jamaicans and Carribean Islanders that live here.

SOUTHERN MEXICO PART 2

FRIDAY JUNE 21ST – DAY 16 – PUERTO ESCONDIDO – TUXTLA GUTIERREZ
We woke up that morning on some restaurant´s beach chairs, once again to the sound of pounding surf. After a quick spin-cycle bath in the waves it was on to tuxtla-gutierrez. 350 miles away. We were both kind of dreading the distance but I had a friend there and we had to make it in one day. We passed through beautiful winding roads through dense vegetation then onto long straights with windmills on both sides for miles. Even at 65 mph the air was hot/humid enough to make us sweat.
After ascending through a gnarly mountain highway we arrived in Tuxtla-Gutierrez around 5 PM. My friend Jaime was there to welcome us and took us around the city briefly and then to a giant burrito restaurant. Once again our hosts were EXTREMELY gracious and tried to make us feel as comfortable as possible during our stay.

waking up to some swell in Puerto Escondido
waking up to some swell in Puerto Escondido
En route to Chiapas
En route to Chiapas
We were struggling with the crosswinds here.. apparently during october semis get blown over on this road. hence the wind mills.
We were struggling with the crosswinds here.. apparently during october semis get blown over on this road. hence the wind mills.
The mountain pass between arriaga and tuxtla guttierrez
The mountain pass between arriaga and tuxtla guttierrez
Real men buy big burritos
Real men buy big burritos

SATURDAY JUNE 22ND –DAY 17 – TUXTLA GUTIERREZ
Originally we planned on only staying the night in tuxtla and continuing onto Guatemala the next day. Jaime convinced us we´d be making the mistake of our lives by not staying a day or two in the state of Chiapas. It didn´t disappoint. Jaime woke us up early for our first activity – A boat tour through the sumidero canyon. Steep green canyon walls, monkeys, and TONS of…crocodiles. Apparently we have to watch where we swim from now on.
Later we took a stroll through an old colonial town, ate pineapple popsicles and drank posol (a traditional drink made from corn and cacao) from a coconut. We continued on to San Cristóbal from there, which I am deeming the Park City, UT of Mexico. Trendy, fancy, cultural city. Tons of Europeans go there to live and visit. Finally, we visited the caves of rancho nuevo, hired a 12-year-old indigenous guide who spoke and told hilarious jokes in monotone, and then ate some giant corn tortilla quesadillas and fried bananas in creme. DELICIOUS!

sitting in front of the symbol of the state of chiapas
sitting in front of the symbol of the state of chiapas. When the Spanish invaded, some of the Indians prefered to throw themselves off the highest point in this canyon (3000 feet above the water) instead of being conquered.
our boat was somewhat similar to this one
our boat was somewhat similar to this one
"the christmas tree" waterfall
“the christmas tree” waterfall
"The christmas tree" waterfall from below
“The christmas tree” waterfall from below
one of our many reptilian friends we made
one of our many reptilian friends we made
the streets of san cristobal de las casas in Chiapas
the streets of san cristobal de las casas in Chiapas

SUNDAY JUNE 23RD – DAY 18 – TUXTLA GUTIERREZ – PALENQUE
Early church with Jaime, followed by our first oil change at almost 4000 miles and then chain adjustments. Jaime again convinced us that we´d regret not visiting Palenque so we waited one more day on Guatemala and hit the road east towards the ancient mayan ruins.
We climbed to nearly 8000 ft and went right into the clouds once again. We got wet, then cold, then miserable. First we went through cold, high altitude villages where all women were wearing the same purple dress then we dropped into the sweaty depths of the jungle where you either leave your visor down and get hot or use just your sunglasses and get pelted in the face with airsoft pellets (bugs). I generally prefer pain over sweat.
We arrived in Palenque just as it was getting dark and paid $10 each for the penthouse suite at a ¼-star hotel. Air conditioning was an optional extra $10. We declined.

oil change and chain tightening before entering guatemala
oil change and chain tightening before entering guatemala
Heading for the clouds outside of Tuxtla
Heading for the clouds outside of Tuxtla
Break time on the way to Palenque
Break time on the way to Palenque
Going deeper
Going deeper
This was our view for 3 hours of winding roads
This was our view for 3 hours of winding roads
At one point during the trip to palenque my tools spilled all over the highway in the middle of nowhere. Within a minute or two of us stopping we hear voices coming from the jungle. Out pops one guy speaking an indigenous dialect then we hear other excited voices.  They kind of knew spanish and wanted to know what we were doing. They spent the next 10 minutes helping me find every socket that dropped from the bike then they disappeared in the jungle again. Where they came from... i still don´t know, we were 20 miles from the nearest civilization.
At one point during the trip to palenque my tools spilled all over the highway in the middle of nowhere. Within a minute or two of us stopping we hear voices coming from the jungle. Out pops one guy speaking an indigenous dialect then we hear other excited voices. They kind of knew spanish and wanted to know what we were doing. They spent the next 10 minutes helping me find every tool and socket that dropped from the bike then they disappeared in the jungle again. Where they came from… i still don´t know, we were 20 miles from the nearest civilization.
Hotel parking garage. chase tipped his bike over onto the glass the next morning. haha luckily nothing broke
Hotel parking garage (lobby). chase tipped his bike over onto the glass the next morning. haha luckily nothing broke
Our penthouse accomodations.
Our penthouse accomodations

MONDAY JUNE 24TH – DAY 19 – PALENQUE – HUEHUETENANGO, GUATEMALA
We awoke to the soothing melodies of various 10,000 watt speaker systems just below our room, advertising different breakfast promotions and other commodities. We ate our last Mexican meal. Eggs with chorizo, rice, black beans and of course, corn tortillas. We traveled the 5 minutes to the ruins and spent about an hour and a half walking around. The mayans had a pretty cool setup there. We left Palenque around noon and got back on the same road we came in on. More jungle, followed by higher altitudes and pine trees. We found a road that wasn´t on my GPS and it turned out to be a huge shortcut down the mountain to the Guatemalan border. All day with almost no rain. Hallelujah!
Guatemala to be continued!

Palenque! ..with tarps on it..
Palenque! ..with tarps on it..
The mayan ball court. Soccer runs in these people´s blood.
The mayan ball court. Soccer runs in these people´s blood.
more temple stuff.
more temple stuff.
somewhere up in the mountain
somewhere up in the mountain
Welcome to Guatemala!
Welcome to Guatemala!

SOUTHERN MEXICO PART 1

DEAD ARMS, DEAD WOMAN AND 3600 MILES AND COUNTING!

DAY 12 SAN LUIS POTOSÍ – MEXICO CITY

waking up in clean sheets is a real treat!  We spent most of the morning eating our world-class continental breakfast, showering WITH hot water, and using the internet. Around 3 PM we said goodbye to our luxurious accomodations and headed south towards Mexico City. The terrain started out arid but soon turned green as we approached the Mexico City valley and its infamous smog bank. We arrived in Mexico City just as it was getting dark to realize that the directions to my friend marko´s house were worthless. After a couple hours of mind blowing, crazy, intense traffic and frustration we arrived. We found Marko and went straight for the nearest taco stand. then bed.

Here comes the herd!
Here comes the herd!
Descending into the Mexico City Valley.
Descending into the Mexico City Valley.
The infamous smog bank of Mexico City (Mexico D.F.)
The infamous smog bank of Mexico City (Mexico D.F.)

DAY 13 – JUNE 18TH – MEXICO CITY
Stomach problems for Chase once again. He´ll be going on the bread diet from here on out. In the morning we went to the doctor. A 3 minute walk from the house. The doctor recommended several different drugs for pain, irritation, infection, etc. Lucky for us Marko´s dad sells drugs, (the good kind) so we got everything cheap. The doctor charged chase $2.50 for the visit. Not bad!

The rest of the day I hung out with Marko and some neighbors and talked about motorcycles for like 5 hours while Chase laid in bed.

Pobre Chase
Pobre Chase

DAY 14 – JUNE 19TH – MEXICO CITY – ACAPULCO
That morning we said farewell to our friends in Mexico City and set off for the ancient ruins of Teotihuacan. 15 miles away. It was a quick trip. We went to the top of the sun pyramid to make peace with the sun god and got back on the road towards Acapulco. Unfortunately for us, Mexico City was in our way. There´s no way around it. It took about an hour and a half to make it through the traffic and back onto open road. From the city we climbed to 10,000 feet into some foreest and then back down a mountain into what i´m going to call jungle. For the first time ever, we are surrounded by dense dark green vegetation. But the ´jungle´comes with heat and humidity.

That quickly disappeared as mother nature hurled a thunderstorm at us. No jackets this time, or boots. We were soaked through in less than a minute. During the rainstorm we passed through a small city. It was extremely refereshing to feel the brown street water drench my chest and helmet from passing buses. Hopefully those Hepatitis shots are kicking in.

I would have caught the action on my GoPro but the battery just fried.  Hopefully Chase´s camera can pick up the slack.

We made it to Acapulco (a disgusting city) before dusk and found the gated hotel community area to our liking. As usual, we pulled up and some stranger was there to tell us where to put our motorcycles for security and where to camp. He also provided us with a little bungalow and chairs. We bought him a liter of milk for his mom and tipped the guard 65 cents for his troubles. Tuna sandwhiches then sleep.

It´s a calf burner
It´s a calf burner
On top of the Sun Pyramid
On top of the Sun Pyramid
Storm approaching
Storm approaching
Dropping into Acapulco after a thorough drenching
Dropping into Acapulco after a thorough drenching

DAY 15 – JUNE 20TH – ACAPULCO – PUERTO ESCONDIDO
We left our our little bungalow around 9 am and got on some of the most fun roads of the trip. In my opinion. The jungle got a lot thicker here towards the coast. The roads were always curvy but rarely any hairpins. It was hot though. Even at 65 mph we were both sweating. But there were a few special highlights.

Chase almost rear ended me when I braked for one of the 10,000 speed bumps we´ve crossed so far.

Side note… Mexico is an interesting place. They substitute paying police for traffic/speed control with some cleverly (and not so cleverly) placed speed bumps. BUT. They don’t like spending money on cones and road signs for construction. They use people with flags instead. We pass 30-40 flag twirlers on any given day as we pass through construction zones. They must be cheeper than cones. Whatever.
Other highlight of the ride. We came up on a group of wild west, shotgun toting, ammo-belt-wearing farmer-policemen on the side of the road. I thought it was strange. Then I saw what they were standing around, which was even stranger. An elderly woman in colorful indian garb lay flat on her back dead with a look of horror still in her face. No blood. Just dead on the side of the road. We{ve seen a lot of dead stuff on the side of the road. This was the first dead human. Hopefully the last.

We pulled into Puerto Escondido, “the mexican pipeline,” around 3 pm. The waves were huge but blown out. Sizing it up I got super nervous. I had to surf. No matter the conditions. I found a dude from LA that gave me all the details on the break and I ended up paddling out with him a couple hours later when the wind died down. I paid 50 pesos for a nice fatty shortboard and spent about an hour and a half out in the water. The whole experience went like this…

On the paddle out (through smaller waves on the north side of the break) I was a little sketched out. Got held under a couple times for quite a while. But it was fine. When I made it to the main break the biggest sets came through with face heights at a good 16 feet and HEAVY! I caught 2 waves and air dropped on a third into oblivion. Everytime I got caught on the inside I´d take 3-4 waves on the head, get shoved to the sand, wait 5 seconds and push up as hard as possible. I was disoriented everytime. On one hold down my board smacked my tricep hard enough to give me a dead arm for a sec. I got a third wave and called it a day. To give you some additional perspective on the power of the waves, 2 dudes of the 10 of us that were out there snapped their boards. Glad I got to experience the mexican pipeline with only a slight bruise on my tricep.

Now off to bed on some part of the sand.

Good Morning Acapulco
Good Morning Acapulco
Leaving Acapulco for Puerto Escondido
Leaving Acapulco for Puerto Escondido