December 12, 2003 GMT

She shakes her sternly with the finality of a nightclub doorman...

The bed is a treat. A foam mattress. The favourite of bed bugs everywhere--they adore the way it absorbs and holds all the juices. The frame has metal bar crosspieces positioned perfectly for maximum discomfort. I have just taken the doors off the wardrobe with my leatherman (there is a special attachment) and slid them underneath to stop the bruising. I still leave an imprint on the mattress like where a body falls onto concrete in cartoons, but sleep is now possible.

Otherwise I like Panama City okay. What a mix of people. The café latte coloured future of humanity.

Panama has the biggest...

...differences of wealth in the world.
Photos: Didier Martin

My face must be a picture. I am standing at the Avianca check-in desk. The bike’s already flown to Bogota. My flight there goes in 45 minutes. ‘I need a what? No, no, Ireland’s in Europe. European Union. No necisisito visa por European Union. Ireland in Europa’. She shakes her sternly with the finality of a nightclub doorman. You aint getting in mate. And sure enough, twenty minutes of phone calls and computer punching later, I aint getting in. My two friends are on their way to gate 15 and I am left asking around if anyone knows where the Colombian consulate is.

It seems the US doesn’t want the wrong sort of Irish in Colombia. So I go along with all my documents to prove that I am made of the right stuff, begorrah. Not the political type at all. The underlings won’t deal with me. I am directed to the consul. She’s advising God. I wait until she’s finished putting him straight. Usual set-up, big office, wide wooden desk with the window behind so I squint into the white light that emanates from around her beatific person.

She’s not a happy woman. ‘You want to ride your motorcycle through Colombia?’ Well that’s the idea. So I nod, smile and say yes. She asks again, just in case yes means something else in my culture, like ‘are you mad, I wouldn’t be seen dead in your armpit of the world you call a country; I would rather be imprisoned for a decade with Leeds Utd footballers’. So that’s an affirmative good buddy, gonna let me in then?

Second time around it provokes a long pause that gives us both time to reflect. I recall that priests do this a lot. And academics. Maybe she has a point. ‘I want to ride my motorcycle through Colombia.’ Hmmm, now I think about it, there is something not quite right about this phrase. I have a week to ponder on it while I await my next audience.

Posted by at December 12, 2003 04:58 PM GMT
Sorry, due to heavy form spamming, Comments are OFF.

HU DVD Spring Special!

Buy the Achievable Dream Collectors Set and get Road Heroes Part 1 FREE!

Achievable Dream - The Whole Enchilada!

Cooped up indoors in crap weather? Binge watch over 20 hours of inspiring, informative and entertaining stories and tips from 150 travellers! Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to order them both and use Coupon Code 'BoxSet+' on your order when you checkout.

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!

What turns you on to motorcycle travel?

Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!

New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.

Books & DVDs


All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.

Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!