Well, to catch up everyone! We’re in Barranquilla! And I have a broken leg! And here is how it all happened!
We arrived in the Cartagena, Colombia port on Saturday, July 30th. And that night was spent finding a hostel, and going to bed. It was well deserved. There were about 20 passengers that got off the boat, and we all stayed in one of 4 different hostels.
It would prove to be a good group.
The next day, Sunday the 31st, was spent lazing about the city. I had spoken with Tom and we were dead set on getting parts for our motorcycles, but being as it was a Sunday, we put very little effort into it. Chains, sprockets, and tires can wait till Monday. And they did.
Sunday night was a good night and we all had a good time. Nothing special in comparison to the boat ride, but we can’t keep that kind of behavior going all the time!
Monday would prove to be our biggest day.
Our motorcycles had been onboard the Stahlratte ever since we pulled into port. The immigration/customs office doesn’t operate past mid day on Saturday, or at all on Sunday from what we were told, and thus we had to wait until Monday to take them off the boat to import them.
We arrived at the dock at 8:30 and within minutes the Stahlratte was winching bikes off the boat, into their small hard bottomed dinghy, and cruising them across the bay, headed to the docks edge.
It didn’t take long for the dinghy to arrive.
And when it did, we sucked that little boat up against the dock…
And as many as 6 of us would grab as much bike as we could, and then, physically haul the bikes onto dry land. It was quite the effort and display of man power.
Here you can see Charlie’s bike being offended by the crowd favorite, Floyd, our French crew member!
Andy’s bike would not be forgotten.
And George preferred to do the honors himself!
Well, after the bikes were on shore, there was little more to do then import them over at the customs shack. Ha… Right…
Cartagena is a large port for transportation and we weren’t the only ones with this in mind. So Manfred, the German shipping agent and friend of Ludwig was there to help up out.
Soon, we learned that the systems were down, the inspection agent needed to be called, we would have to wait until after our bikes were inspected to leave, but of course we’d have to come back around 4-5pm when the “system” had time to get us in the “system”.
Well, that’s fine. So… We waited, and waited, and waited a little more. Like normal. I’m used to it. Most of the time. This time we waited a LOT. BUT. Hell, we’re on a new continent, I can handle waiting a bit longer if this is what it takes to get to South America. I’m game.
And thus our motorcycles were inspected, and found to have mismatched papers/vin numbers, which would need to be changed. Awesome. Oh well, see you back at 4:30 then Manfred? Ok.
And so Tom and I took off in search of parts. Front and rear tire, front and rear sprocket, and chain for Tom. Rear tire and chain for Alex. We can do this. Easy.
Did I mention that the Colombian police force uses the DR650 and one of its clones as one of their preferred methods of transportation?
Check out the Suzuki Freeway, or at least that is what we think they keep calling it. It is the sport touring version of the venerable Dr650 and the cop bike of choice. The motor is the same. Exactly the same according to the mechanic. The difference? The oil cooler is a bit larger. The gas tank is standard at nearly 5 gallons. The instrument cluster is electronic, the fairings of course are different, and MOST notably, it has two carburetors for the single piston! I want one!
Well, we found our parts for the motorcycle. Tom bought a Pirelli MT70 front and MT90 rear tire, as well as an OEM front and rear sprocket/chain set for his bike. He’s paying a hefty price, but it comes with the knowledge that the stuff is legit. No one wants a CRAPPY chain on their bike.
Like what I have! I bought a DID chain for $35, along with a front and rear Pirelli MT90 tires. Kristi doesn’t know it yet, but she’s bringing down a stock DR650 chain that has only 4k miles on it. That will replace my ghetto chain, along with new sprockets sometime in the future.
Tom and I then made plans to have our bikes serviced at the dealership, as well as have all of our parts installed professionally. The biggest hassle would be Tom’s chain as the OEM chain has no master link. Letting the mechanic pull the swing arm to install the chain sounded like an easier option for Tom. Plus, they’re not going to pinch our tubes when they install our tires. The service was cheap and we willingly paid it. I would end up paying $45 for a preventive maintenance program with my rear tire and chain installed. Tom ended up paying $65 for the same maintenance but with both tires, both sprockets, and OEM chain installed. We were pleased.
By the time we arrived at the Suzuki dealership and found the parts, and put them aside, it was time to go back to the customs office to see about collecting our motorcycles. Wait a bit here, wait a bit there, wait a bit more over here, and presto. We now have bikes, with no insurance (which is required by law) and we can’t buy it until the next morning because the insurance offices are all closed. Oh well.
So we took the bikes back to our hostels, parked them up good, and went for a night on the town. Monday night did well, but had no photos to show for it!
The next morning, Tom and I took off in search of insurance. An hour and $45 later, we had 4 months of insurance (the smallest amount sold) in our pockets and motorcycles to deliver to the Suzuki mechanic.
The day before, the mechanic had said that if we delivered the bikes first thing in the morning, he would have them done by 3pm that same day. When we arrived, he changed that estimate to 11am the next morning. Whatever, sounds fine. We saw it coming anyway.
We then left the Suzuki Dealership , and our bikes looked like this. We would pick them up after the installation of our parts and pieces, as well as a general maintenance. Awesome.
Well here our story unfolds a bit. We’ve been traveling with Charlie, Andy, Jill and Ty, as well as Anna for the past 8 days or so, and now, we’re planning on parting ways. Well, we didn’t plan it initially, but that’s what happened.
The other guys wanted to get out of Cartagena and into the cooler temps of the mountains nearby. That sounded great to Tom and I, and we were planning it, UNTIL we found a Suzuki dealership with a qualified mechanic, all the parts we needed, and the time to put them on for us. We would just have to wait a day longer. And so we did. Charlie, Andy, Ty and Jill took off from Cartagena on Tuesday afternoon, the same day we dropped our motorcycles off for service.
The next day we collected out bikes.
And we were excited to have them back. And we were happy to ride them away from the dealership. Though we were not happy to find that they had siphoned half our gas tanks (we delivered them with 3 miles on the tank). We looked at the man, and he looked at us back. He was a good mechanic, sure, but he was a *****. We left without parting words.
That was the beginning. Back to the hostel, load our crap, check things twice, and get out of town.
Then, get lost getting out of town. Talk to Tom, look at the map, make decisions, keep going.
We’re in a new land, and a new continent. The scale of things here in South America is simply much larger. Distances on maps are no longer expressed in 5-10 minutes, but 45min-1hr. They don’t read 5km, they read 50km. We’ll have to pay attention to that.
And so we found ourselves heading out of town, northward it would seem, headed to an intersection 80 miles away that would lead us east and into the mountains. Or so we thought. Our day had a little more in store for us then planned….
As you know, I would get clobbered, creamed, and slightly broken by a passing truck, and shortly thereafter would pose for this photo.
I was walking/hopping at that point. That would be the best I moved for a few days.
I hopped in and went for a ride.
Damn. This wasn’t planned.
Shortly, I was sitting in a hospital, all my crap everywhere.
With a leg/foot/ankle that I had earlier told Tom, “I think is broken”.
Soon, a lady was taking blood samples.
And Tom arrived, having taken care of my motorcycle for me. It still ran too. The police chief had been tossing mini wheelies on it all the way to the police station with Tom in tow.
Then the police gave me a breathalyzer test to make sure I hadn’t been drinking. I rang up a clear .000, of course. Though it amused me that it was already 3 hours past the accident! Haha.
Soon, the ladies, all mid 20’s (nurses?) were gathered around.
The comments then began, and rang loud and clear. Holy crap he’s tall. He’s like 2 meters. Where is he from? Does he understand Spanish? What happened? Wow. Hmm.. Bzzz, buzz, hmmmm,haaa. Well that is what was audible part at least. The giggles, laughter and girly antics soon followed from behind a curtain.
I must have looked really white to them, or just so different that they couldn’t possibly fathom that I understand Spanish. For I am sure they wouldn’t have said what follows if they thought I would understand, and thus it was very funny to hear them say from behind the curtain, quite loudly, the following:
Girl number one, “He doesn’t even fit in the bed. Did you see the size of him?”
Girls one through six, “Hehehe, giggle giggle giggle, hehehehehehe!”
Random girl, “Can you imagine the size of him? He probably doesn’t fit anywhere else!”
Girls one through six, and at least 5 other patients, “Giggle giggle, laugh, gag, choke, gasp, etc.”
Alex from behind the curtain, “La cosa que es mejor es que puedo hablar espanol.”
(Or, “The thing that is better, is that I can speak Spanish”.)
Well, that was a funny site to behold, as I witnessed dust trails erupt from the ground as 6 pairs of feet took off into the distance like the Roadrunner from cartoons. Damn, I must have embarrassed them!
Well, while I was there in the hospital, receiving x-rays, and talking with other people, and telling them what happened, I met 4 other motorcycle crash victims. One hit a taxi, his leg looked like it could turn out like mine. Another hit a car, and fractured his arm. A third fractured his arm as well. And the 4th, well, he took a lane splitting too close and tagged a mirror, and he wasn’t wearing gloves.
Finally, they took me to a room to spend the night. At this point though, I hadn’t eaten or drank any water since 9am. I was damn hungry and thirsty, and it was about 9pm already. The hospital doesn’t have a cafeteria, so people set up shop nearby and sell food. When the doctor asked me if he could do anything for me before he let me sleep, I told him I needed 2 meals, a coke, and 1 liter of water. He thought hard, and told me not to worry. An orderly arrived, inside of 20 minutes with my food, I gave her money, and she came back with a fruity bubbly drink that was AWESOME, and 2 bottles of water. SUCCESS. Steak, fries, soda, and water.
I was a happy son of a gun right about then.
I even had a T.V. to watch while stuffing face!
And my leg was in a cast for protection for the night.
And then… I went to bed, and at 4am was woken up to take a shower. And then went to bed again. And then at 6am was woken up. This time, for SURGERY!
This would be the first time in my life going under the knife like this. Only the third time I’d ever had stitches. The first break of any bone, and surely the most dramatic experience in the hospital yet.
Except that I was doing wheelies in the wheel chair, and spinning 360’s in the hallway!
Soon after taking off all my clothes and putting on a one size fits all gown that barely made it to my knees, I was escorted to the operating room. I was consulted by a technician or nurse or doctor (not sure of his title) and was recounted my history of events and told what I could expect to happen.
I would receive a shot in my back to numb me from the waist down. I would then have an incision, a plate, some screws, some stitches, and then I would be finished. Ok? Yea. Um. Ok.
And so it began, and I watched it all from the reflection of the mounting bracket of the swiveling ceiling light that lit up the whole operation. I didn’t “feel” the pain of the first incision, but I saw the knife move. I didn’t “feel” the scraping of the tool used to definitively separate my skin/muscle tissue from the bone, but I felt the vibration. I didn’t “feel” the cauterization of the heating element that sealed off my bleeding vessels, but I smelled it. And I couldn’t “feel” the holes being drilled through the plaque and into my fibula, but I could hear the drill. The screws gave me no pain, and I felt none of the 8, but each insistent torque of the hand held screwdriver gave away their purpose. And finally, I felt not a single stictch, but all 11 of them pulled snuggly as they were tied.
The doctor stood up, and pronounced affectionately that I was done! 8 screws and 11 stitches, my son, you’ll be good in no time!