November 13, 2009 GMT
Columbia to Costa Rica

My entry in to Columbia was easy but took over an hour as a group of students studying English were there to practice. I had a great time with them and had them help me with my Spanish.
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Students and Teacher

The views were just spectacular as I road into Columbia. I forgot where I stopped but it was somewhere before Cali as I wanted to go into the city when I had time to find the Hostel Casa Blaca. It was evident that the general economic conditions were quite good compared to much of South America. There was also an obvious military presence along the road. Was not sure if that should make one feel comfortable because they are there or uncomfortable because why are they there.
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The view was good but you don't want to miss a turn.

I had a GPS coordinates for Casa Blaca Hostel in Cali but it only got me close and after going in circles for half an hour I parked the bike and started walking. Only then did I figure out how the address worked. It was Ave. 6Bis, Calle 26, made a difference if Ave. was first or second and there were three Ave. 6 s, (6, 6bis, 6a).
Was a great place to stay, there were two other riders there, one from Britain and one from Australia. Mike the owner had been riding around the world when he met Diane in Columbia. She went with him to North America then they returned to Cali and opened the Hostel. He also does tours on motos or quads and will rent motos.

The second day in Cali I was told there would be a group getting together for a ride so off I went. There was seven Motos and we rode 110 miles up a valley to the village of La Union. Where we had a perfect lunch in a small seafood place. From there we rode up to an old colonial church.

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Lunch on the ride

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motos in front of church

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view from the church which was on a hill

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Dan riding a Harley Road King and heading south, I recomended he stay out of Bolivia as the road are caca.

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Toll booth on road after I left Cali, must of been 20 of these as I crossed Columbia, but motos get to go around most of them.

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Guard at toll booth. The military would have a check point or station every so often. When they go to be every two K it made me think that the are must be seeing some problems.

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Pastures do not need to be flat because they are never cut, but pastured year round.

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001Coffee.jpg
Found the coffee but Jaun Valdes was not there

As I headed to went to Medellin about 100 K out I decide I can make it all the way. Then the road starts twisting up over a mountain range. There was considerable trafic and the truck would run at 10 mph as it was a steep winding road. By the time I made it to Medellin it was getting dark and I had no idea where I was going. Tried to find a couple of hostels that I had address to but no luck, ended up heading to Historic Center plaza. This has worked to find a hotel many times. I found a hotel but it was not a good part of town. The parking garage was a block away and as I headed to hotel the attended indicated watch out and be careful. After getting to the hotel and eating I walked to plaza, full of ladies of the evening and drug dealers so I scooted back to hotel.

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It was hot and I could see the pool from the road so I spent 65,000 pasos and got a room here for the night. (2000 to $1) was worth it.

The ride from Medellin to Cartagena was very interesting from an agricultural prospective. The high lands (2000 to 2600M) were dominated by dairy farms. Most were in the 20 to 50 cow range and shipped milk in cans. These were very nice looking farms with several milk processing plants along the way.

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Farm in the hills.

When the road dropped to lower elevation the farms turned to beef cattle. Most were Brahma cross but there were some others. There was a section of very wet ground where they had water buffalo.

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Old town in Cartagena not the best part of town but the Hostel was cheep.

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This is a view is from an old fort (very big fort) looking back to the old part of the city.

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This is a Cerrio, made in China, He bought it in Argentina and has rode it for 17500 K. It is totally worn out, the frame has broken for the third time, brake adjustment was striped, many parts were not working or fell off. But for $1200 he went a long way over some very rough roads. He worked on it all one day then left the next morning hoping to get to Bogota but was soon back as brake was hanging up. Plan now to scrape it out and hopes to get $350 (can not sell it as it has Argentine title).

To get to Panama you go by boat or plane as there is no road through. I checked on flights and I could fly moto for $1000 on the 19th or $1800 earlyer. The sail boats charge $370 for the moto and same for person for a five day cruse. Being cheap I went with the boat, was a bit concerned as I do not do well on water. Bought the seasick pills and off we went. Moto, nine backpackers, and myself on a 60ft. sail boat.
We loaded at six in the morning (loaded moto night before) and were off. The seasick pill really put you to sleep so much of the first day and half are a blur but then things got a better.

We spent two days in the San Blas Islands, swimming snorkeling and just doing very little.

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Loading moto on to sail boat, in the dark.

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Dolphins playing

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Moto tied to boat under tarp

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What can I say, was OK

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Golden Eagle

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The Kuna cooked us dinner one night of crab and fish.

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To get the bike from sail boat to shore we had to lower into this smaller boat then lift it over the side to beach.

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This is the Kuna hut that I stayed in for four days in Porta Lindo. When I got the bike off the boat and to hostel I was told that It was best to take the bus to Colon to get paperwork for moto because it was not brought in a port of entry and could be problems if they asked for paper work at check point. They were closed on Sat. so had to wait till Monday to get paper.

Once I had the paper I rode most the way through Panama in one day. Many of the citys were modern and like any you would see in US. including McDonalds and KFC.

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Simmental cattle for sale in Panama

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Old fort south of Colon Panama

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This is my morning view
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This is what it looks like in the afternoon, it is the rainy season here and I am told that I can count on rain most afternoons.
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Del Monte pineapple farm in Panama.

I am now in San Juan, Costa Rica. Had the bike serviced, changed oil, plugs, and put on new brake pads. Still need a front tire but I have made arrangements to get one in El Salvador.
Staying at a really nice place with a pool 15 feet from my door so I am going to stop now.

Still planning on making it home for Christmas

Posted by Robert Thode at 09:24 PM GMT
November 22, 2009 GMT
Central America

The last entry ended with San Juan, Costa Rica. I am now in Belize planning on moving into Mexico tomorrow. Overall Central America has gone by way too fast, there has not been a country that I haven't wished I could spend a few more days in. Maybe next time I will travel with no finish date in mind.

From San Juan I moved north through some beautiful farm land. The cattle ranches were large and well maintained.
Big Bull.jpg
They grow them big here

CRpasture1253.jpg


As I was going through one town I came across a motorcycle club getting ready for a ride. They were a fun group to talk to and rode a short way with.
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Moto Club in Costa Rica

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Cattle in Nicaragua

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Moving through Nicaragua in one day it is all kind of a blur, took this picture of truck full of people to the point of one hanging on the pack. Some are also on top.

I had seen several areas where rice was being grown but this was the first time I saw a tractor in the rice paddy tilling the mud. I do not know what he was pulling but it was making a wake behind the tractor. the tractor is dirty but a newer New Holland tractor.
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Farm

Honduras will be interesting to watch in the next couple of weeks. The President was removed by the military after he tried to stay in office longer than the constitution allowed. It now appears that the US is going to try and meddle in C.A. politics again trying to prevent them from enforcing their constitution because he was friendly to USA. They have scheduled elections for the 29th and I was told that it could get interesting.

I got to the El Salvador boarder to early (7:00) and it took me 3 hour to get all the paper work done and back on the road. By 3:00 I was in San Salvador where I had a tire waiting at the Harley dealer.

The dealer had emailed that "was easy to find" when I asked for directions or a GPS coordinate. So after wandering around for a while I headed for city center (historical) to find a place for the night. Had narrow streets with lots of traffic and buses belching black smoke. Vendors of all types set up on the sidewalks and spill into street with people everywhere.

At one point my important paper folder fell out on the street as I had forgot to zip up pocket when I pulled out map. Had to stop and pick it up in the middle of traffic. Found a Hotel with parking and friendly people for the night. Rooms are running about $30 in Central America but this one was $20 with no AC.

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This is the parking lot guard that watched my moto all night. In the hotel was another guard with pistol grip shot gun. Seemed that every where had a guard, even the Harley shop I found the next day.

With a map and directions it only took me two and half hours to find the Harley shop. It was a one man shop so it took till noon to get the tire on. Shop was located in Central Commercial area and was a direct opposite of the down town area. This was up scale markets and mauls much like would be found in Seattle. Even had McDonalds and Burger King but I did not find a Starbucks for coffee.

After getting the tire on I moved north to a small town of Metapun. Was a real neat place with friendly people. The night clerk at the hotel had spend time in the US and spoke good English. We sat around out side on lawn chairs talking about places and politics for a long time.

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Metapun

When I got to the border (El Salvador - Guatemala) and pulled out my folder at check point my Temp. Import papers were not there. They must have fallen out when I dropped it in San Salvador. Did not even get time to panic one of the guards went with me down to the Customs and in ten minutes had me new papers. Officals on both sides were friendly and helpful. I was through the boarder crossing in 45 minutes, fastest time yet, with no helpers. This was not on the Pan Americana but north as I was heading to Copan Honduras.

Two hours latter I was at the Honduras Boarder and crossing. Copan is the site of Maya ruins. I got to the archaeological site about 3:30 and spent about 2 hours walking around. The town of Copan is a small tourist town, which means lots of vendors trying to sell you stuff. But also many small restraunts and bars to hang out in and people that spoke English.

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Copan

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Jaguar at Copan

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Fields just past Copan ruins. Trickle tube under plastic, no idea what they were going to plant.

From Copan I crossed back into Guatamla and made my way northeast to Tikal (Mayan site). Rode up to park entrance and found a place to set up tent for night.

The next morning I got up at 3:30 and started up trail with flashlight at 4:00. Hiked to highest temple and climbed up to top. Then we sat down and waited for sun rise.

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First light

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Morning

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Temple 2

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Now this is a warning sign you don't see often

From Tikal I headed to the Belize boarder, crossing was fairly easy. It is interesting after over two months to be somewhere they speak English. Stopped for the night in town of San Igacio, nice place with a real atmosphere.

I am now in Orange Walk in Northern Belize and will cross into Mexico tomorrow.


Posted by Robert Thode at 04:45 AM GMT
 


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