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  #91  
Old 15 Aug 2011
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This sounds like an absolutely amazing journey. I am very jealous, I can't wait to get out on the road again myself.
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  #92  
Old 16 Aug 2011
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Ok now.. Here is the SCHPEAL.

And the game today? Wait more. Oh... OK.
Well. Mr. Lawyer Man came back a couple of days ago (Friday) and told me that we had a couple of problems. Oh we do? Oh... Ok.

Well lets hear it.

Mr. Lawyer Man: "Your motorcycle is not registered here in Colombia."
Me: "Yes, I know that. Of course it is not. Its registered in Alaska"
Mr. Lawyer Man: "Well they don't want you to take a vehicle that has been in an accident, outside the country."
Me: "Why not? I need to be in Bogota on the 22nd. I need to leave this place."
Mr. Lawyer Man: "They don't want you to come back later with grievances."
Me: "Ok. Fine. I won't come back. How do we tell them that?"
Mr. Lawyer Man: "We'll now we have two options"
Me: "Ok. Well. I'm listening."

First: We can find a Judicial Policia (Judicial Police Officer), and have him come over, of course you will have to pay him, and have him declare that you have the right to leave. I don't know when he will be available, and I don't know how much he costs.

Second: You and the driver of the truck can sign a document that neither of you will try to recover damages from one another, and sign off any right to follow up on the accident with any further issues. You each take responsibility for your own actions.

Me: "Well... Ok. What do you think about option two? Do you think there will be a problem getting the other drivers signature? Let's try option two."

Mr. Lawyer Man: "I think that will work fine."

Well. That was Friday. Saturday and Sunday the parking lot where my motorcycle is closed. Monday is a national holiday. So, I have to wait until Tuesday at the earliest. It would seem that I could possibly get the bike on Tuesday. If I get it on Wednesday, I'll consider myself lucky.

And that was Friday.

Tom returned on Saturday afternoon, and we've been eating, sleeping, and playing pool down the street with another guy that is at the hotel. (Nicolas, also 24yrs/old.)

That was Saturday, and today, Sunday. And Now it's Monday.

Tuesday if we're lucky. I'll get my motorcycle! Wooooo.... How. Exciting...

Onward?

--Alex


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  #93  
Old 16 Aug 2011
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And the SCHPEAL continued..

I got a few emails, and messages, and responses on the ride report. They want to know why I'm having problems getting my bike back.

So, let me enlighten you to a bit of the behind the scenes action.


People seem to be worried that I might be getting pulled for a loop by the local Colombians. My motorcycle

I got an email from a friend of mine. He thought it would be a good idea to get in touch with the Horizons Unlimited Community inside Colombia. I told him that that sounded like a great Idea.


(I post this exact same ride report on Horizons Unlimited (HU) as well. Currently the second most viewed RR "ever" over there! Aaaaaawesome.)


So, in less then an hour, my friend sent out a request for some help. The way it works over there, is that you can add your location to your profile, and incorporate yourself into an HU Community, such as Snohomish County (my community at home)


Less then an hour after that, I received a response from a HU member in Cartegena. He asked what my situation was. I responded. He told me what he could do. I accepted.


I gave the name, mobile number, and office number of my lawyer to the man. He told me he was going to cut to the chase, and figure out my dilemma.


He also made it clear that he suspected some fishy stuff was going on, demonstrated a knowledge of the situation, and told me he'd help. I thanked him appropriately.


Then I got another email from my first friend. Some other top dogs, big wigs, and important people, are interested to see that I come out in one piece and don't get tossed in the ringer.


Things will be ok. So I'll share a poem I wrote a while ok.



Why We Ride


"Where we are, we hardly know;
For all purposes, our map doesn't show;

Any more then North, East, South or West;
As for us, that may well be the best;

We don't mind where the path may go;
For us, the path simply flows;

On, around, across and down;
We simply keep two wheels on the ground;

While we travel this tiny world;
We see it through a hazy swirl;

As the landscapes fly on by;
We ask ourselves the simple question, Why?;

The answer lays ahead of us;
And so we ride on, for we must;

Until the day comes when we are done;
For then we may know what is to come;

When the trip reaches its entirety, we will have been changed entirely."


ONWARD!!!


--Alex

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  #94  
Old 16 Aug 2011
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Pistol whipped and pissed off!

August 16, 2011

Our night has had a turn of events. Tom was literally held at gun point in our hotel lobby, by three individuals, (two men, one woman), and robbed.

Here are the events as they transpired:

Tom went to get some water and snack goods in the lobby.

He went downstairs with what is basically a $5 bill in his hand.


He asked the bellhop guy if he could buy some water (350ml water in a bag).

Bellhop guy said they were out of water.


Tom could see the water, weird, but ignored it.


Tom then just asked for some of the chocolate bars that they have. That was when a man, whom Tom had noticed talking to the bellhop, approached him from behind and with a hand on his back, and a pistol to his gut, told him to come with him as he lead him to the door.


Tom instantly said no, and tried to turn around, shoving the guy’s hands away.

The guy then got physical and another guy joined in, and they passed the gun to a woman. All the while Tom is looking at the bell hop that is doing nothing.

Soon, Tom was knocked down, and the men started throwing kicks and punches, and somewhere in between Tom got Pistol Whipped. Tom was now in fight mode, and was not otherwise injured.


Bellhop guy meanwhile was scared out of his mind.

Tom didn't budge, and then, in the midst of this outrageous occurrence, manhandled his way to the hand railing of the stairs he had just come down, away from the front door, and started raising HOLY HELL.


I heard him yelling from the 3rd floor, but people yell all the time, so I didn't do shit. I didn't even get out off my ass. Why would I?

So, Tom just tore his way up the stairs trying to run away, and the other three, discouraged and obviously not prepared to shoot, ran out the door as he was SCREAMING at the top of his lungs.


He then ran up the stair and burst in the room with blood on his chest, right arm and neck, missing his shirt because it was ripped off him, and declared to me in no uncertain terms that he was just held up and robbed by gun point. The blood was coming from his head where he was hit with the butt of the revolver.



At this point, I have Tom sitting down, and I'm looking at his head. We are not hurt badly, nor discouraged. Just angry and pissed off at this point.



Just a little blood.



We’re now wondering what the hell happened. WHEN:

We heard more yelling from the room. Tom hears these words, “Van para Argentina”. (They are going to Argentina). We get apprehensive.


It turns out it is the police who were running throughout the hotel, in force (I saw at least 6, all uniformed the same).

However, to find out it’s the police, I have to open our door. I do so with Tom’s power assisted knife in my hand, wide open, with serrations gleaming.

Then I see the police, and stash the knife.

I notified them that Tom is ok. The bellhop was with the police, VERY visibly shaken, and when he saw Tom, he started to cry, VERY visibly relieved. They hugged, it was good.

The police told us to close and lock our doors. All of the hotel staff (three men including the bellhop) were very distraught.

We closed and locked our door.

Tom begins to relax.



And so we sat. And wide awake, decided to watch an episode of "Making the Cut" on my comp.



Then we went to bed (3am).

And that, my good people, was last night.

Onward!!!!!

--Alex

P.s. On the bright side, the call out to the HU community garnered a man that lit a fire under the ass of my traffic lawyer. We got things signed, copied, printed, stamped, and signed again. I should get my bike tomorrow morning.

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  #95  
Old 16 Aug 2011
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Whoop whoop! You two really are living the dream huh?

Nice to have some scary tales to tell the Grandkids. Just keep getting lucky please, I'm enjoying the story!
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  #96  
Old 18 Aug 2011
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Bike...

Well, obviously I didn't get my bike yesterday. And I was hoping to get it today. And I didn't. BUT.

Well today was a good day....

I learned that I will get my bike Tomorrow. (I HOPE)

As it turns out, at least from my point of view, my traffic lawyer man wasn't being a slow pain in the ass. He was really just going with the crappy flow of bullshit that slides downhill in the district attorneys office.

Today I met a man, from the US, originally from Puerto Rico, living part time in Barranquilla. He spoke better English then some of my American friends. He told me, last year when he was involved in an accident, it took HIM 2.5 weeks to get his own car back. And that is with perfect spanish. So...

Also, I over heard my traffic lawyer man bitching with other lawyers about how much corruption there is in the Barranquilla traffic office as compared to the Cartegena, Medellin, Bogota, and Cali offices. They all agreed and said they hated this shit.

So. I got my stuff signed. I can pick my motorcycle up tomorrow. I'm ready.

Kristi arrives in Bogota on the 22nd. Monday at 8pm'ish. I want to be there by Sunday. Here's hoping that the next 1050km (650 miles) isn't too rough on me.

--Alex
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  #97  
Old 18 Aug 2011
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Brilliant, its great to follow your adventures.. hope you get you bike

Ride safe
Geordie aka Will
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  #98  
Old 22 Aug 2011
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And, we’re on the road.

On Thursday August 18th, at 12pm, we got the hell out of Barranquilla, and hit the road for Bogota. Bogota on the map doesn’t seem too far away. But, if you look close, and read it carefully, it’s easy to see that we had 640’ish miles to go before we would reach the capital city of Colombia. Well, we have 4 days to do it, and from what we’ve heard, we’ll need nearly all of it.

Here is a parting shot from where Tom got beat up and survived his pistol whipping.



Thursday went well, and around 6pm we had ridden 175 miles. The temperature hovered around 94 degrees, and maxed out at 98 (37c). We spent much of our time on the road, hovering around 40mph, dealing with semi trucks passing busses, and impatient cars passing mini motos. (The 125cc variety).

On the way we cruised through farm land and forests, but it never cooled down. A shot from the road.



It was easy to see that Tom was happy to have left behind his bad thoughts (being mugged didn’t help) and I was glad to give him the lead.



Charlie, Andy, Ty and Jill had all agreed, Bogota might look close on the map, and it may only be 650miles, but it’ll be the longest road you’ve ridden yet. We we’re beginning to see why.

Just as it started to rain, we found ourselves getting a little bit hungry, so we stopped, and across the street was the hotel/hospedaje, that would be our home for the night. I parked my spectacle of a motorcycle and we had some food.



The room we slept in had two queen sized beds, a bathroom and a TV. The price? 30mil Pesos. (30,000 pesos) or, $16.85 for the both of us. Considering that we were sharing 55mil in our Hotel in Barranquilla, we we’re happier then could be.

That night, the clouds opened up, and the rain came down like we haven’t seen in months. There was so much lightening that we could walk across the street later that evening to the restaurant without our flashlights. We had the same meal, and went back to watch some episodes of Human Planet on my computer, courtesy of the earned wifi in Barranquilla.

The next day Friday the 18th, we left the hotel at a bright and early 10am. We were tired as hell, and neither of us slept particularly well. But we hit the road as the temp hit 85, and were blazing out trail down the highway when suddenly only 20miles in; my motor began to cut out, and without much ado, simply shut down. WHAT THE HELL.

Of course, I am behind Tom, and while wearing our earplugs, even honking my horn a dozen times will do nothing. I honked anyway, and he kept going as I pulled to the side of the road. SHIT.

As I pulled over, I couldn’t decide what my problem was. Why had my bike shut down? Was I experiencing a busted stator pickup like Tom had in Panama? Did I have a short somewhere? Was I out of fuel? Did I have spark? Was my air filter blocked? What the HELL happened.

As I sat there, trying to start my motorcycle again, I kept wondering what I was dealing with.
Well, in less than 5 minutes, Tom had turned around and came back to find me, on the side of the road with a dead bike, with Bogota 445 long and twisty mountainous miles ahead of us. And so we started.
I took off my top case off my crutches, tank bag, panniers, side covers, seat and gas tank.

Normally, it wouldn’t be necessary to remove the panniers to remove the side covers. However, after my latest meeting with a truck, my pannier frames are so compressed that removing the side covers necessitates removing the panniers, and also loosening a pannier frame bolt. What a pain in the ass.

Check out my right side pannier frame. It’s trashed.



And if that doesn’t work, another view,



I kindly asked Tom to take some pictures, and he obliged.



Well. Lets first check fuel. Yes. I have fuel. I had filled up that morning, and only had 20 miles on the tank. Ok, fuel is good.

Let’s check the spark and spark plugs. (Requires removal of tank, which requires removal of seat, which requires removal of side covers, which now requires removal of panniers and pannier frames)

OK. Bust out the tool kit, and get to work. Check the spark plugs. Ugh. They look like hell. How many miles are on these things? 18.5k? Damn. Check for spark. I have spark, but it looks weak. Well, now is as good a time as any to change them, glad I bought those spares 6k miles ago in Cuernavaca, Mexico when I bought that Pirelli MT60. Only, where did I put them?

Not long after looking, I found them, installed them, and with the little gas left in the carb, instantly fired up the bike. Tom let out a whoop, and I visibly smiled. Damn. I’m glad it was that easy!

Ha. Haha. HAHA. HAHAHAHAHAHAH!

If ONLY.

Not 10 minutes later when Tom and I had my bike fully assembled, I turned the key, and hit the starter. Chug, , , . Nothing. WHAT?! I have fuel, I have air, and I JUST had spark. Damn. Round two, here we come.

This time Tom whipped out his tools, and we double teamed the bike. Minutes later I was checking the spark again. No spark! Why!? What happened? We spent a few minutes staring at it, and we couldn’t figure it out. Damn…. We’ve been here for nearly 1hr45min. This sucks.

It continued sucking for about 2 more minutes when a fellow motorcyclist pulled up and began asking questions. We told him what had happened, and he told us that where we were was not a particularly good place to be. The drug traffickers grow their stuff up there in those hills he said, as he pointed to the mountains. I’ll call the police and let them know that you’re here, ok? Yea. Ok. Thanks…

Now, it’s sucking just a little more than it did 2 minutes prior.

Well, two minutes later a man in a flat bed cargo truck stopped on our side of the road, and with no hesitation, backed his truck to within 25 feet of our motorcycles. Tom and I looked at each other, a little wary. Soon, the man walked over, and who was he? No other then the same man we had met the night before at our hotel. He had been checking out our motorcycles, and we chatted for 5 minutes or so before going to eat. And here he was again. I always knew it didn’t hurt to make friends!

This guys’ name is Wilson, and I have no photos of him. He is a driver for a local industrial mechanic company, and he does whatever they need him to. At this time, he was returning from Barranquilla to Baccuramanga, after having delivered a 2 ton transmission for a machine. His truck was empty, he had space in his cab, his fuel was paid for by his company, his schedule was flexible, and he was offering to take my bike to Aquas Chicas where there are tons of motorcycle shops, where they could certainly fix my problem.

Wow. Thanks Wilson! That sounds great!

And so the three of us loaded my bike into his truck, tied it up, and took off. Tom had the pleasure of following the truck at a grand max speed of what MIGHT have been 50mph the entire time. Rest assured, he achieved fantastic gas mileage.

On the way I bought Wilson a coke from street vendor, and after a gas stop we arrived at our destination. Wilson stopped, asked for directions, and 5 minutes later we were pulled up in front of a Suzuki Dealership.

Hot Damn!

Unloaded, and problem explained, Tom set off in search of food. I had previously offered to buy Wilson lunch, and after much protesting, he followed Tom for his meal. I sat with a bunch of very interested Colombians as we diagnosed my bike. At least there was a police DR650 in the shop at the same time. So they had SEEN my bike before, which is always excellent news.

In less than 5 minutes, I was looking the fool as my motorcycle was fired up, and my spirits were lifted. I had experienced a two stage problem.

First, my spark plugs had finally crapped out, and I pulled over to the side of the road. After dismantling my motorcycle, I had replaced the plugs and the bike started. Excellent.

Then. I put the gas tank back on. And in doing so, disconnected a plug on the wiring harness connected to my coil. When everything was connected, I had no spark (My ignition coil was disconnected).

That’s when Wilson showed up and offered his help. And that was the beginning of my lameness. The mechanics showed me the disconnected plug. It has a weak clip, that is easily popped loose when pulled on. It had been popped loose when I hit it with my gas tank. DAMN. Some Gorilla Tape later, and I had a fully connected Ignition coil plug, a running bike, and $15 less dollars (shop charge).

I hurriedly ate some food that Tom had pre-ordered for me, and we hit the road again after profusely thanking Wilson, shaking his hand, and revving our engines for the shop crew.

That night we made our way until the sun started to set behind the mountains, and we had claimed 140 miles. Damn…. We’re not getting very far now are we. That night was spent at a truck stop hotel with secure parking, an attached restaurant, and cheap rates. Another day on the road.

Saturday August 20, 2011. 140 more miles. Outrageous truck drivers, fearless bus drivers, and 125cc motorcycles traveling 2 up, hitting corners in the rain faster than I’ve ever dared.
Along the way, we stopped for a few photos at appropriate spots. Here is Tom.



And here is me. Hi Mom and Dad!



About 30 miles, and an hour later, steadily climbing up the mountains from the valley floor, we pulled over at another view point.



To snag these kinds of photos



Whats up Tom?



Not a lot Alex.



How about you? My? All is good man.



Well, that was cool. And so we hit the road again. About another hour later, and 30 more miles down the road we found ourselves in San Gil. Ty and Jill had enjoyed their time here, and though we didn’t have time to stop, we found ourselves at an AWESOME outdoor beef grill restaurant, and had some of the best meat that we have had in our entire adventure thus far. It was, AWESOME.

As the motorcycle sped by out on the road, we sat and watched our meat roast on the spits over the open fire. One older guy kept watch on all of the meat as a couple younger ones did all the running to and fro with the cooked meat.



After about 15 minutes, our food was served; a platter of meat with a few small potatoes. More than enough to fill us up, we thoroughly enjoyed the meal.



Wilson, the truck driver had told us that as we continue to get closer to the center of Colombia, and leave the coast behind, the food gets better and better. He claimed that the Costenas (Coas-tain-yas), as residents of the coastal region are known, don’t have as good of food as the Chocanas (Cho-Kan-yas), as residents of the inland region are known. He then went on to mention that the more beautiful women are found inward from the coast and specifically Medellin. Those one he called, Paisenas (Pie-sain-nas). With that, he took his thumb and first two fingers, pressed them to his lips and life a French chef claiming his meal complete, kissed his fingers, tossed them into the air, and made this sound, “Wheeeeeesh”. Signifying, woooooaaaaaah. Or yeeeessssss. Or, delicious. However you would like to describe your women.

I prefer Kristi.

Well. Wilson was right, and our meal was freaking awesome, and between the two of us, less than $10.
So we took off, and hit the road again. Our goal for the day was to get more than half way to Bogota, and in time, we would realize our goal. We found ourselves buying gas just as it started to piss rain. When it rains out here in the middle of the mountains, at altitude, in the tropics; it simply pours. Tom tossed on his newly acquired waterproof over pants and jacket (purchased in Panama), and I put on my inner liner. When you think of what Tom must look like, imagine neon yellow rain gear. That’s him. He loves it. I think I need some soon. It’s one thing to be waterproof from the inside out.

It’s another thing to be completely waterproof from the outside in. When I arrive sopping wet on the outside, Tom will arrive, shirk his outer liner, and be dry on the inside, all while continuing to wear his protective gear. We’ve seen hundreds and hundreds of locals on the side of the road throwing on their rain gear ever since Mexico. Tom took the clue. I’m next in line.

Not more than 10 minutes later, the heavens opened, and we were engulfed in walls of water. With not much of an option for a hotel, we just kept going. The storm soon subsided into a manageable deluge, and we continued on. Minutes later the rain stopped falling in sheets, started falling in drops, slowed down even more, and off on the side of the highway we spied a restaurant/hotel/gas station combo, pulled over, and called it a day at 3pm. 7hrs on the road is good enough.

Our room, shared with two beds is 20mil ($11.36), our meals were the same combined. We don’t even need air conditioning because it’ll be less than 60 degrees tonight. We’re finally back in our element, and we’re happier than shit. A little rain? 70 degrees and below? Cheap lodging, food, and gas stations everywhere?

We’ll take it.

Now we’re watching the semi finals of the Copa Mundial. The Fifa U-20( under 20 yr/old) World Soccer Cup. Mexico just whooped Frances ass 3-1.



More to come soon!

Kristi arrives tomorrow! Hot shit!

Onward!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

--Alex
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  #99  
Old 22 Aug 2011
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great report alex... loving it.

that valley in the photo i believe is the chicamocha canyon.. between bucaramanga and san gil, right? great place.. had the pleasure of rafting that river a few years back.. incredible.

all the best for your travels and keep the reports coming
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  #100  
Old 22 Aug 2011
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Thanks everyone!

dave ett: Scary stories indeed! Nothing too intense so far though. We'll keep getting lucky! Don't worry. We're gonna make it!

geordie_e: Thanks for the compliment and thanks for following along!

nicodeemus:You would likely know the name of the canyon better then me! It was between Bucaramanga and San Gil. You are probably right. Well done! Rafting that river sounds pretty damn awesome. The reports are coming. Soon. Twist in the plot to come.
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  #101  
Old 22 Aug 2011
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Plot Twist

Hello everyone!


We have since arrived in Bogota and found a place to stay at the Cranky Croc hostel, somewhere in the old district of town. We were looking for a different hostel when I saw the sign, and hit the brakes. In we walked, booked a room, and were immediately presented with what turned out to be a 2005 BMW HP2 Enduro. Adam, an Israeli has been traveling for 2.5 years, with 1.5 more to go.



We then parked the bikes in the parking area, and there presented another bike, a 2009 KLR650. Chris from California ends his 1 year adventure this week. Tom and I are half way done. Awesome.

Not an hour went by before Adam and I were talking up a storm, and I learned about what this guy has done for the past 2 years. He then mentioned that a local contact that he had made was going to arrive in the next hour, to give him a tour around town and go for a coffee. The man coming was named Pedro. It turns out Pedro had responded to my Horizons Unlimited shout out. Well, can I come along? Sure. No problem.



Tom opted to stay put and find some food, and I threw on my ATGATT and we rolled out the door as Pedro and his wife arrived on his R1200GS. The first stop was to the top of a lookout area where we had a look around. Pedro is a skilled motorcyclist and has travelled in many areas around the world on his motorcycle and other rented bikes. Adam is 90k miles into his journey. I stayed in the back, and we hit the road.



After checking out the sites, we road back down to a more urban area and sat down for a coffee around 6pm. We stayed until 9pm, talking about motorcycles, listening to Adams 2.5 years worth of travel history, his time spent working in Africa, and his current ride, a 2005 HP2. At 105hp, and only 386lbs (dry) it serves nearly 70hp more, and weighs only 62lbs more than my DR. And, it gets better fuel economy.



Throw in the fact that Adam is a master mechanic by trade and services his own bike, and you have a pretty gnarly combo tearing up the highways and byways of the world.


We sat with Pedro and his wife for a while, and his son Esteban arrived shortly thereafter, and Pedro’s friend on a R1200GSA came as well. The six of us had a great time.


After coffee and a chicken sandwich each, Pedro refused to let us pay the bill, and covered the tab. He then paid our parking lot fee, and refused again to let us pay. He THEN offered to help me collect Kristi at the airport tonight in his personal vehicle. At 8:40pm no less. This guy is top notch. I only hope that someday, when I am back at home for a while, I will have the opportunity to show the same generosity to others.


We all parted ways soon thereafter, and Adam and I followed his trusty GPS back to the hostel for the night.

And now we come to today. Kristi arrives tonight. She comes bearing gifts. A full Happy Trail Pannier kit for my bike, spare parts for Tom and I, and a few select items that Tom requested she bring down. Clothes for the coming months in the Altiplano, and other misc things will soon adorn the interior of his luggage.


..........


………..


………..


………..


………..

This is when things take on a different view point, and the original plan goes awry. However, we have nearly never made plans, and therefore, not much of a plan is being tossed awry, and in fact we’re just doing what we always do; Flying by the seat of our pants.


Kristi arrives at 8:40pm today, Monday, August 22, 2011. I will dutifully go and get her. I’m very excited. We eat some dinner, spend the night in the hostel, and Tuesday morning I’ll put all my new luggage on the bike.


Tuesday afternoon, I ride my bike to the home of Carlos; a Horizons Unlimited, Bogota, Colombia community member and I put it in his garage.



For 4 weeks.


Considering my recently broken leg, a 5’9” girlfriend, (340lbs of people) gear for two people, a cramped motorcycle, and the rough couple of thousand miles ahead of us between Bogota, Colombia, and Cusco, Peru (Kristi’s destination for this leg of the journey) I have decided to ditch the bike for a month, and hit up the gringo tourist track via buses from here to there.


When all is said and done, and Kristi flies home to the states from Cusco, I’ll hope on a plane, fly to Bogota, recollect my bike, and continue the bike journey south.


Gotta be nice to this leg right? Further more. Cruising for extended periods of time on a bus is no issue when traveling. Doing the same on a bike elicits demands on your body. We’ll be able to cover some serious ground, and see some awesome sights along the way, and Kristi will have a nice, gentle, epic midsummer introduction to the life that I have been living for 4+ months. I call it the beginning of a new kind of life.



She won’t be missing me so much when she has to go back to school in September. She’ll be missing the traveling. She comes again Dec. 9th to Buenos Aires.


As for now? I collect her in 5hrs 20min.

AWESOME.

--Alex
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  #102  
Old 24 Aug 2011
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Kristi in South America.

Hauling ass from Barranquilla to Bogota took a bit longer than anticipated, but not any longer then we planned for. We stopped a few times, had a few meals, met a couple people, and rode about 650 miles. It was all great fun and a good last few days.



Fast forward a day and a bit. Kristi arrives at the airport, her flight is on time, and she’s pushing a big cart with a couple of boxes, and a travelling backpack. Hell yes. Waiting for her for the hour we stood outside the arrivals gate was probably the most anxious that I have been in nearly 5 months. She’s never traveled outside of Canada or Mexico. I was hoping she’s got her ducks in a row. When I first saw her, she had a very confused look on her face. It was priceless.

Tom and I helped her with her things, I took off to get a taxi, and then we all piled in the back and shot the shit on the way to the hostel. Kristi looks good. Better then I remember. Saweeet. On the other hand, I am a shadow of my former self, at nearly 20lbs lighter, a thinner face and slimmer body. I once hit the scales at 210lbs while working in Alaska. I don’t think I weigh 190 anymore…

20 minutes after hopping in the cab, we hopped out. Kristi had touched down in Colombia, and she had a constant smile on her face. I was happy to see her smiling. I love when she smiles. I’m a corny son of a bitch sometimes too. Get used to it, it’ll be this way for the next 4 weeks.

We hit the street vendor selling pizza, cokes, and a for Tom, and gobbled it up. Kristi’s first effort at street food was a success. Righteous.

I had reserved a private room for Kristi and I for the following two days, so we piled all our shit into the room and hit the sack. Time for bed.

8 hours later I was outside in the parking garage installing my new racks, bags, and top case. Here is how it went.

Scan back to the first photo on this post to see what I was dealing with before. With every bump in the road I would feel my luggage shake, rattle, and nearly roll. I was wondering if I would make it all the way here. I did. Not now the new luggage goes on.
Here is the right side rack.



And another view.



And a view of the Left side.



And a rear view.



Sweeet. Time for some boxes.



Side profile.



Top case!



Top case Side shot!



Ok, enough of that for now. You won’t be seeing my bike for a month, so take it all in while you can.

It was a short while after I had spruced up the bike that I took off to find Carlos, the local HU community member that was going to let me keep my bike at his place for free for a month. I took off to find him. Found his address, or so I thought, was caught in a torrential downpour that had even the locals shaking their heads, and never found Carlos. I went back to the hostel, parked the bike, and grabbed Kristi. It’s time for food babe. Lets hit the town.

And so we hit it.

Hey Dad, Check out this church. We didn’t go inside, but it was pretty cool.



On the way down the street, we saw a street vendor vending fruit. Pineapple was the choice of the moment, and Kristi makes her first appearance in Colombia with a face full of fruit. Hi Kristi!



Down the road we walked. I wanted to buy a cheapo brick cell phone for the coming 5 months. We found one, and I paid $28 for it. A Samsung phone that runs on Dual Band GSM signals that I can use all over the world as long as I have a local Sim Card. I got a Sim card for $2.80, and put $2.80 of credit on it. Now it’s in my pocket.
Here I am, geeking out.



We stopped to eat at a Parilla, or grill. Everything on the menu is 8,900 pesos. ($5.00) Cokes and lemonades are 2k pesos. ($1.13). Ordered up, we waited. When the food came, our waiter offered to take a photo, we happily accepted.



Kristi had the grilled steak with French fries, and I had the same, only covered in a mushroom sauce. We tried a bit of each other’s food, I ate my entire meal, and Kristi took half of hers to go. (I’m liking the sounds of only feeding her half a meal at a time… Cheap date).

After that we hit the grocery store to stock up on dinner food to be cooked at the hostel. A pound of steak, bag of mini (super mini) potatoes, a head of broccoli, and a couple cups of rice, all to the tune of $6, and we were ready to go.

Back at the hostel we met up with Brian and Adam. Brian is 33 from California riding the KLR650. Adam is 36, from Israel riding a BMW HP2. These guys are both cool dude.



We hung out in the local dining area of the hostel for a while, had a each, and shot the shit.



After a couple hours, it was time for dinner, and we got to work cooking. We ate like kings, and had half of it left over for the next day (today). We stored the leftover food in one of the grocery store plastic bags, wrote our names on it in permanent marker, and tossed it in the fridge for later. I love cooking too much food, because I LOVE eating it later.



That was yesterday night, and having lounged this morning in the bed, Kristi sleeping while I typed away, we have plans to hit the streets and find some food, and then go to the Museo del Oro (Gold Museum) and possibly another one as well.

More to come!

--Alex
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  #103  
Old 25 Aug 2011
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Cape Town
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Tom?

One thing that I have not seen you say is what is going to happen with Tom?
Is he continuing the trip solo? Will the two of you meet up again in a month? Will he be staying fairly local?

Chris
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  #104  
Old 25 Aug 2011
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Location: Everettt, Washington, USA
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Tom and his plans.

Tom has met up with Charlie and Andy, and is heading south with them for the time being. We´ll meet up on the route.

Check out Tom´s blog at The Tom Report

Thanks for keeping up!

--Alex
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  #105  
Old 27 Aug 2011
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Bogota to Cali, meeting Charlie, Tom and Andy, August 23-25.

Our last day in Bogota was a rushed one. Kind of. We took off at slow pace and made our way out the door with the goal in mind of seeing some new things that day. Kristi had looked up a few things to see/do before she left home, and one of them was the Museo del Oro, or the Gold Museum.



I haven’t gotten off my ass and made it to a museum yet over the course of the entire trip, so it sounded like a good idea to me as well. We hit the streets with a hostel map in hand and made our way out into the world, crutches under each of my arms.


After asking directions ,getting lost twice, and finding our way there finally (though it should have been EASY to find) we stopped for a photo of the entrance where a brightly dressed girl was advertising something. I told Kristi to smile so I could snag a photo.



Zoom in on the girl.



Fast forward about 10 minutes and we’ve made our way into the 4 story gold museum. For 3k pesos each, $3.30 total, we paid the cover fee and started looking around. The museum covers the history of metallurgy, especially Gold, throughout the history of Colombia throughout the past 1000 years or so. I snagged some photos so the rest of you could see what these ancient guys were up to.

First up. 7 pieces of finely hammered, many times over annealed, finely placed gold sheet were placed around this sea snail. Often times the inner piece would remain, but in this case, over the years, the shell has deteriorated and is no longer present.



This one is just one of the cooler, more intricately designed ornaments that was used to adorn some important person’s body, “back in the day”, and was created using the lost wax casting method. We watched a short vide on the process as well.



This one is made up of several pieces mated together, to allow the head and tail of the bird to move together in unison separate from the rest of the body. Pretty cool.



Another cool decorative piece of gold, meant to combine the characteristics of a bat and a human, as it was thought to embody strength, cunning, and other positive endowments.



We hiked and crutched though all 3 levels of the museum, then hit the road back to the hostel via “Crepes and Waffles” to grab an ice cream cone. Damn good ice cream cones.



On the way back Kristi made sure we snagged a photo of the passing Donkey for good measure.



Back at the hostel, we repacked all of our stuff to make sure we had everything taken care of. The buses, especially the night buses, can be brutally cold on the way south, and can even necessitate a blanket on top of your thermals , or sleeping bag over your outfit. Believe me. Everyone on the bus has a blanket, and sometimes more than one. When traveling in Peru/Bolivia in the July/August 2008 I even experienced ice forming on the inside of the bus windows no less than 4 times. It’s intense.

So with that in mind, Kristi repacked her bag, and I went about reselecting what I would bring along. We initially thought that we would fit everything into Kristi’s 65 liter hiking backpack, and we could have, if not for my laptop, camera bag, and the sleeping bag that we elected to scavenge from my pile of goodies. So, we stuffed the 15*F sleeping bag (that I bought in San Diego, and haven’t used yet) into her pack, and all of my belonging went into one 25liter pelican case. So there we have it.

Next step was to catch a taxi to the bus station to catch a night bus to get to Cali, so we can begin our trek south towards Ecuador and into Peru. Sounds like Tom, Andy and Charlie will be there as well. Lets see if we can find them.

On the way to the bus station, we got caught behind this guy… Imagine you were on a motorcycle. F$*#.



Our Taxi driver admitted that just 3 days ago, that was him… I asked him how he got out, and he said, “Chug, Chugga, Chuuuuuuuuug! Used the Clutch!”

Well, we planned on catching the 6:30 bus to Cali, as it is a 10-12 hour bus ride. That simply wasn’t going to happen as we arrived at the bus station at 6:45. When we looked online at bus times, it seemed that the last bus departing for the company “Bolivariano” was at 6:30pm.



Well, it lied, and in no time at all we were on the 7pm bus, with 5 minutes to spare before its departure. From what we have read, and been told by other travelers, Bolivariano seems to be the best bus company to travel with. It only stops at actual bus stations to collect or drop people off, and has two bus drivers that rotate every 4 hours that the bus is on the road. They cost a bit more (only a few dollars more each) but that is made up by the fact that their buses are newer, and in better condition. We’ll take what we can get.

Kristi’s first long bus ride!



We slept most of the bus ride, and 11 hours later we were in Cali, tired and with no idea where we wanted to stay as we hadn’t remembered to write down the address of where the other guys were staying. Damn. We had a name, but the Taxi driver had never heard of it. So, we drove towards the center, and as soon as I saw a sign for cheap accommodation (40mil for a private room), I asked the driver to pull over, and we hopped out.

After 12 hours in same position on the bus, my foot was swollen into the shape of my Teva Sandals.



On the way into the city at 6am, I swore to myself that I saw a bright orange jacket riding a big black motorcycle riding behind two other big black motorcycles on the way out of the city. Tom and the gang must be leaving early! Damn. We just missed them. So with just the internet at our disposal, I emailed the guys via facebook and told them where we were. Andy popped on line soon thereafter and told me, “Dude, we’re in Cali. We never left.”

Well hot damn. Lets meet up somewhere. Casa Blanca Hostel? Excellent.

And so, within a few hours we met up, and then took off for the local English Pub, Talbert’s. The menu wasn’t cheap, but the food was good, and Tom, Andy, and Kristi liked the !



We all ordered outrageous meal, and between the 5 of us, we ate about 4lbs of beef and 8 potatoes. Then we had some more drinks.



Andy likes big s, Charlie likes the imported ones, and Kristi… Well, I think Kristi likes the Aussie Accent…



Tom on the other hand… He likes the Colombian accent.



All night long the speakers blasted music in English, to the beat of all of our favorite songs. I watched as Kristi danced. Then I watched as Andy danced. Then they danced together. I have a broken leg, and Andy’s girlfriend doesn’t join the party until September 1st, in Quito, Ecuador. They had a good time, and my leg got to take a break.



They danced a little,
Then Danced some more.



Then Andy started busting some moves.



Then gave her a spin.



Then finish the song with a cheer!



Mean while, Tom is hitting up the Duff s.



GIVE ME MORE!!!



By the end of the night, some crazy song had them all up in cahoots, and everyone was dancing together.



And that my friends was the end of the first night in Cali, Bogota where we caught up with some long lost pals and had a good time.

Currently, we’ve since left Cali, and are now in Pasto, 2 hours north of the Ecuador/Colombia border. We took a night bus departing from Cali at 10pm, and arrived here in Pasto at 7am. We checked into the Koala Inn Hotel and booked a private room for the night for less than $17. Tom, and the Aussies left Cali within the last hour and are heading here now. It’s a 7 hour ride by motorcycle, so we’ll see them in the early afternoon.




Tomorrow morning or so, we’ll head to Ipiales, the border town, cross into Ecuador, and then take a bus to Quito. Ty and Jill (Panamericans) are an hour south of Quito as it stands now, and we’d like to see them again. Anna and Kim are in the Galapagos Islands snorkeling, and will return to the south of Ecuador within the next few days. Everyone is somewhere and we’re all going the same direction. It’ll be good to see how things pan out!

All is well!

--Alex
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