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Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, At the foot of the Bear Glaciers, eternal ice, British Columbia, Canada

Adventure is what you make it

Photo by Bettina Hoebenreich, at the foot of the Bear Glaciers, British Columbia, Canada.



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  #211  
Old 10 Dec 2013
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Updated from Oct 20 2013: Painama-ass



You'd think that having crossed all these borders before that we'd know what to expect the second time through. However, at the Costa Rica/Panama border, we're presented with a new wrinkle. We need to show the border official that we are carrying $500. Cash. For each of us. What the faahh...?

Apparently a new rule has just come into effect requiring all travelers to show that they have "economic solvency", ie. that they can afford to be a tourist in Panama, and not panhandle on the streets of this country. Non-citizens also require proof that they'll return back to their country, like a plane or bus ticket. Since we're on our vehicles, that second requirement is waived, but it takes us some running around trying to find an ATM that will dispense $1,000 so we can wave it in front of the border official's face.

These new rules are ridiculous. Now any mugger is guaranteed $500 for every person he robs at the border. A car full of 5 people? That's $2,500 right there. Stupid!


Still rainy season in Panama City

It took us a couple of days of riding on the monotonous Pan American Highway to get to Panama City. As we got closer, Neda started developing a fever and by the time we checked into our hotel, she had a full blown flu and was bed-ridden for a few days. Kinda reminded me of the last time we were traveling this way, except that it was me that was traveling sick.


Modern city peeks through the old buildings of Casco Viejo

Panama City is pretty developed, there is the newer downtown district, a lot of run-down areas, and a historic part called Casco Viejo that is recently undergoing some renovations to attract tourists. After Neda recovered from her flu, we rode through some seedy sections of town to get to Casco Viejo.


Outside our restaurant - paid expensive tourist prices for lunch


The Old and the New


San Francisco de Asis church

Panama City was founded in 1519 and it stood for 152 years before being burnt to the ground by its own governor, in a scorched earth tactic to prevent it from being attacked and looted by the pirate Henry Morgan. A year later in 1672, a new city was built which would later become Casco Viejo, where we are walking around now.


Childish glee running amok in the streets!


Casco Viejo is built on a peninsula on the southwest section of Panama City Lots of fishing and swimming off the small malecon


We can see the new Panama City rising above the harbour across from the peninsula


Most of Casco Viejo is currently being renovated, these are the newer sections


Plaza Francia is a newer section and was originally the main square and is right on the waterfront

The plaza was built as a dedication to all the French workers who started on the Panama Canal in the 1880s. When France ran out of money, the United States took over the Canal, completing it in 1914. The obelisk is topped with French coque crowns and plaques detail the effort in building the Panama Canal.


Kuna Indians, who we first met on our sailing voyage on the Stahlratte through the San Blas islands, have set up stalls at the Plaza Francia


Kuna masks for sale


Colourful Kuna dresses





Busker playing at Plaza de Francia


The spires in the background are from the Cathedral in the Plaza de Independencia


Would never have guessed that she was bedridden just a couple of days ago!


No idea what this colourful building was in the distance


Neda hanging out at the Plaza de Francia, fish market in the background


Hanging out in doorways is a popular pastime in Casco Viejo
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  #212  
Old 11 Dec 2013
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Update from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/122.html



One morning, we rode out to visit the world-famous Panama Canal - or at least the Miraflores Lock, one of the three locks that comprise the Panama Canal system. It's the southern-most lock, about 15 minutes away from Panama city and is the first lock that ships go through when they approach from the Pacific Ocean. There are two other locks in the 80-km long Panama Canal: the Pedro Miguel lock, within visual distance of the Miraflores, and the Gatun Lock, which is closer to the Atlantic Ocean.

I heard an interesting comment the other day about how geopolitically, South America starts at the border between Panama and Colombia. However, geographically, the continents are physically separated by the waters of the Panama Canal, so anything south (uhm... east) of the canal could be considered South America. And that includes Panama City! So really, we've been in South America for quite a while now!


Neda waves to passengers aboard a cruise ship passing through the Miraflores Locks

You can watch ships traverse through the double locks of the Miraflores from a multi-storey visitor's centre. An announcer on the loudspeaker tells us interesting facts about the canal while we wait for each ship to line up, get pulled into position by tug boats and then small locomotives on either side of the canal. There are two lanes so two ships can cross at the same time.

Some interesting stats:

- Canal passage costs are dependent on the size, weight and cargo of the ship. Private yachts typically pay $1000-$2000, whereas the largest shipping commercial ships and tankers will pay up to $150,000!
- Even though the tolls are high, ships save two weeks of sailing time by not having to travel around the tip of South America, at a savings of $1,000,0000!
- The lowest toll ever paid was by Richard Hallibuton in 1928. He swam across the Panama Canal and was charged according to his body-weight: 38 cents!


180 degree view of the Miraflores from the Visitor Centre

- The maximum size ship that can pass through the Panama Canal is 106 ft wide, 950 ft long.
- Ships that approach this limit but do not exceed it are called Panamax ships. Newer ships that exceed this size are called Post-Panamax ships.
- In 2006, the Panama Canal announced new plans to build a third lane with larger dimensions to accommodate post-Panamax dimensions. The new standard, dubbed New Panamax, will be 180 x 1,400 ft! A football field only measures 160 x 360 ft. You'll be able to fit 3.5 football fields end-to-end comfortably in each New Panamax lock with lots of room to spare. That's insane!


Closeup of one of the gates in the lock


View from the visitor centre of a southbound ship passing through one of the double locks

We spent the entire morning just watching ships go in and out of the Miraflores Lock. It's an astounding engineering feat accomplished on such a grand level. You never get tired of watching it. I just found out that the Panama Canal is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Modern (Industrial) World. No surprise!


It takes a ship between 8-10 hours to cross all three locks of the Panama Canal, but you can cross the Miraflores and Pedro Miguel in two minutes!

In the video above, the ship is traveling north from the Pacific through the double-locks of the Miraflores first, and then through the single lock of Pedro Miguel. Although it takes 8-10 hours to make the complete crossing from ocean-to-ocean, you can't just show up as spots are booked up for at least a week out. Some vessels book one year in advance
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  #213  
Old 12 Dec 2013
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wow !!

Hi I only discovered Horizons Unlimited a couple of days ago and have read all of your blog so far ,really enjoying it has inspired me , my bike is ready and will be off for an adventure myself in spring anyway hats off to you both well done
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  #214  
Old 13 Dec 2013
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Excellent! Love the video & time-lapse.
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  #215  
Old 15 Dec 2013
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Originally Posted by lightcycle View Post
Updated from Oct 20 2013: Painama-ass




No idea what this colourful building was in the distance
Biomuseo

Love your report.
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  #216  
Old 23 Dec 2013
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Update from Oct 27 2013: Postcards from a Pirate Ship



The Darien Gap is both cool and frustrating at the same time.

I think it's the neatest thing that there isn't a road connecting North and South America, and that overland travelers have to resort to sea or air travel to continue the journey. It adds a bit of variety to the travel routine.

What we've found frustrating is that our preferred method of travel, the Stahlratte, is booked up several months in advance, which forces us on a schedule and a deadline - the antithesis of what we wanted our trip to be about. We had given ourselves two months to travel through Central America, but once again, we grossly underestimated how slow we move. Travel fatigue has also settled in again, it seems to have come a lot quicker now and more often since the beginning of our trip...


Stahlratte, we meet again...<br>
Picture by Baja Bob


The Stahlratte experience was like deja-vu all over again. From our departure in Panama City all the way to the loading process, we knew exactly what to expect and there were no surprises. Actually, there was one: the weather was much nicer - blue skies instead of rain!

If you've just joined our blog recently and skipped all the earlier bits, you can see the writeup and a ton of pictures from our first trip on the Stahlratte here: <a href=http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/87.html>http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/87.html</a>

So not many pictures this time round, but I took some videos instead - going to try my hand at video editing again.


This little guy was the son of the Kuna island's liason

Someone on the Stahlratte team must have been keeping tabs on our blog, because when the rest of the passengers were rounded up to be shipped off to the Kuna island for the first night, we were told that we could remain on board with the crew. We didn't have such a great time the first go-around, and I think we already paid the Kuna tax, so we were exempt this time. It was a nice gesture and showed a personal touch.

However, this special treatment didn't endear us to the rest of the passengers. When they came back by dinghy the next morning, we were greeted with cold accusing stares and had to make friends with them all over again... HAHA!


Kuna Yala Sunset

Staying aboard the Stahlratte with the crew was an eye-opening experience, watching them prepare the bikes and boat for the journey, having one quiet relaxing evening before having to play host to 20 passengers, and also seeing how integrated the ship is in the San Blas eco-system. In the morning, Kuna from the neighbouring islands would pull up to the ship on their dugout boats, climb aboard, make smalltalk with Lulu (that's what they call Ludwig) and then raid the food stores. The Kuna women would then setup their jewelry and crafts store on the upper deck and wait for passengers to window-shop.


They shoot cannonballs out of pirate ships, don't they?

On this trip, I've discovered that I am a barfin' land-lubber, not suited for water travel. Maybe it's amnesia or masochism, but that hasn't stopped us from booking four different sailings on the Stahlratte, and in total we've spent 15 days on the water with the ship and crew! I'd never have thought we'd do something like that!

Fortunately, the sailing this time round was calm and I only threw up a couple of times...


RideDOT.com trivia: Neda's tankbag is full of seashells. Don't ask. It's just one of those things...

Here's a video I put together of our time on the Stahlratte. Because the bikes are such an important part of our traveling family, there's quite some footage on the loading and unloading process. If you've followed our first voyage on the pirate ship 6 months ago, you'll notice that the unloading process is a bit different. When I asked Ludwig about it, he said his back couldn't handle the dinghy unloading method any more... ha!

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  #217  
Old 26 Dec 2013
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/124.html



We jammed 14 or so motorcycles in the tiny Ambar hostel in the Getsamani district of Cartagena. You couldn't move in the courtyard without hitting a mirror or sidecase. So we didn't. We just stayed around the hostel as the rest of the bikers who unloaded off the Stahlratte fanned throughout the city to explore. It was interesting contrasting how fatigued we were in comparison to these fresh-faced travelers.

Is Cartagena where we'd put the sidestands down for a while to recoup and regroup?


Adventure bike convention

I walked out into the lounge of the lobby to use the wifi so I could type out a blog entry. Our fellow moto traveler from Germany, Toby was on the couch surrounded by the kids staying in the hostel with us. They were enraptured by his Thor-like beard and listened to his stories that he told in fluent Spanish. I thought to myself: Wow, he's really good with kids.


Kids never seem to get tired listening to the ancient tales of Asgard, Loki and Frost Giants...

Then Toby said, "That's Gene over there. You guys should teach him some Spanish..."

That didn't turn out too well. Apparently my aptitude for learning grade-school Espanol wore their patience thin, so we ended up looking at pictures on my laptop instead. They were very curious about where we came from and were captivated with my pictures of Toronto and wanted to see more. So I brought up our wedding photos. They loved it! They said Neda looked like a movie star. Then they looked at me. Nothing. And then pictures of Neda... "So pretty!" Then me... confused silence.

Sorry kids, I don't know what to say. Sometimes the abacus breaks and the math just doesn't add up...


Huddled over my laptop looking at wedding pictures. At this point I'm thinking: "Wow, I'm really good with kids..."

I glanced over at Toby. He was happily typing away on Facebook, or his blog, or something.

Waitaminnit... Wasn't *I* supposed to be working on *OUR* blog right now...?!?

And then I realized... these kids weren't enthralled by anyone. They were just bored and wanted someone... anyone... to entertain them!

By Odin's beard! Thor totally pawned these kids off on me!!!


Streets of Getsamani were flooded with blocked sewage systems and rainy season downpour

If you've joined our blog recently and skipped the earlier bits, there are more pictures and descriptions of Cartagena the first time we sailed through - back when we were less fatigued by travel!

You can view them here: http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/89.html

We did make it out of the hostel a few times, venturing out on Halloween evening to grab a bite to eat at the plaza down the street. Tons of kids in costumes walking around with their loot!


Maybe she can wave her wand and make all this water go away?


Gondola rentals go through the roof this time of year


"My name is Inigo Montoya..."


"I'm Superman, bitch!"

We spent four days holed up inside the tiny hostel, bidding goodbye one by one to each of our fellow moto-travelers as they rode off towards more adventurous pastures, until we were the only ones left. The oppressively hot, humid days melted me into our surroundings, made me feel like a lump of sweaty clay. I didn't want to move.

Unfortunately, mosquitoes love Neda as much as small kids do, and during the nights, as I lay welded to our tiny hostel bed, she was eaten alive by the swarm that made it through the tiny cracks in our room's window and door.

As any married man can tell you, a happy wife equals a happy life. So Neda fetched a large enough sized spatula from the kitchen, scraped me off where I was sitting, strapped me down on my motorcycle and pointed us towards somewhere less humid and less mosquitoey...


Peaje means toll in Spanish. This is Neda no peaje...

We love the toll booths in Colombia because motorcycles go through free! What a contrast to the super-expensive Cuota (toll) roads in Mexico! There's a narrow lane to the right of all the booths just wide enough for two-wheelers, so they can bypass the gates. Everytime we see a sign that reads, "Peaje 1km" we yell at each excitedly other over the communicators, "Pee-ah-HAY!!!!"

Simple pleasures...
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  #218  
Old 28 Dec 2013
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Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/125.html



We're flying on the highway, northbound to the Caribbean coast of Colombia, past the port-town of Barranquilla, towards Santa Marta. Although the temperatures are still scorching, in the low 30s, I can feel the humidity wash off of us as if they were wraps of stifling plastic blown away by the windblast of our racing motorcycles.

This feels good - breaking new ground after 3 months of re-riding through Central America. Although it was nice to actually see these countries properly instead of blasting through it the first time, there is nothing like riding into the unknown, the unexplored. I don't regret our boomerang tour, but re-tracing some of the same routes felt a bit stale, like drinking microwaved water.


Stopping for a scenic break on the road between Santa Marta and Taganga

Santa Marta is a fair-sized city, but Neda has us bypassing it and heading over the sea-side mountains to the tiny beach-resort town of Taganga. It'll be less hectic than the city, but still close enough to Santa Marta to run errands if we need to. The road between the two towns is twisty and winds high along the coastline to give a terrific view of the shore below.


Taganga coming into view, nestled in the cove of the green Carribean coastal mountains

Taganga is a paradise! The temperature is hot, and it doesn't seem to rain very much on the coast. There's very little humidity and most importantly - no mosquitoes! Perfect place to drop all our bags (and panniers and topcases) and just catch our breath. Neda finds us lodging at the Tayrona Dive Center, a huge complex that caters to scuba divers. Since it's off sea-season, we get the largest room in the building!

Even though we've only booked this place for four days I have a feeling we'll be staying here for a while...


Pretty much all we do all day


Also some of this as well...

Taganga is a two-street town, and during the day we walk along the shoreline to grab a bite to eat and check things out. On the weekends, tourists and residents from Santa Marta all flock here to catch a lancha (boat) to take them to the pretty beaches near Tayrona National Park, just around the corner. However, during the week, the place is basically deserted and it feels like we have the town all to ourselves!


A typical Taganga weekend


Bye bye, tourists! We live here now.


Street performers play for the weekend crowd


I think this is one of the indigenous Colombians. He looks like a hippy!


A bit of drama at the Tayrona Dive Center

There's a bunch of shacks and small houses next to the place we're staying, and there are always kids out in the yard playing and lighting firecrackers all hours of the day and night. One afternoon, our room becomes filled with smoke and we quickly realize that it's coming from outside!

I race downstairs to see that a fire has started in the dry grass on the front yard, not 50m away from our parked bikes. I tell Neda to be ready to move the motorcycles in case the fire spreads, and I race out to help the owner of the hotel, and the owner of the attached restaurant to form a water bucket line to help put the fire out.

The firemen came long after we put out the blaze, they just wet the grass to prevent a secondary fire from starting. But behind the hotel, I could hear the unmistakeable sound of a mother putting a huge ass-whooping on her kid, presumably the one who started the fire. It's an unmistakeable sound because it's one that I'm very familiar with from my own childhood...

That evening and the next day, our front yard was silent with the sound of no kids playing, and no firecrackers being lit...

Sweet.


The Taganga cove opens out into the west and every evening we are treated to a spectacular sunset, each single one different from the one before!


View of Taganga beach from the rooftop restaurant attached to our hotel

Tanganga being a resort town, there is no grocery store here and the restaurants and corner-stores flourish. Since we can't be eating out at restaurants every day, Neda runs into Santa Marta every few days to go grocery shopping. Meanwhile I pretend to work on the blog. I haven't put anything out in over a week, and I get a few concerned emails asking if we are okay. It always surprises me how many people keep up with us on the blog and it's a nice feeling having people watch out for us out there!


During one of her Santa Marta runs, a peculiar passenger hitches a ride to the city

I did accompany Neda to a couple of her Santa Marta trips and we spent the afternoon walking the Malecon. It was very busy and there were a lot of police patrolling the beaches. I like our quiet Taganga beach better...


Police officers and tourists mingle on the beaches of Santa Marta


That hippy guy we saw in Taganga must be important, there's a statue of him in Santa Marta!


Uniformed police officer walks by while we take a break on the Malecon in Santa Marta


Being a big fan of sleeping, I am super-envious of this crib...


Back in our hometown of Taganga, we catch another spectacular sunset


Scuba is a popular activity in the coasts surrounding Tanganga

The owner of the Tayrona Dive Center asked us if we wanted to book a scuba trip when we first checked in, but we declined because it was too costly. After a week staying at his place, and maybe to thank us for helping put out the fire, he offered us a spot on his boat the next weekend with his next batch of scuba customers. We're only going snorkeling, but it was a nice gesture and we're really looking forward to it! Yay!


What a beautiful way to spend your days

If there isn't another blog post, you'll know the trip is over and we're staying here forever.

Love, Neda and Gene.
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  #219  
Old 1 Jan 2014
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Update from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/126.html



"Oh, you can do Tayrona Park in a day, it's not a long hike."

The owner of the dive center gave us this sage advice, which in retrospect we should have totally double-checked, corroborated and done our own research. But more on that later...


Hiking through the mountainous region of Tayrona National Park

We rode out to the small road-side village of Calabaza, about 25 minutes outside of Taganga, where we parked our motorcycles in some guy's backyard after negotiating a small fee for the day. When the owner asked us when we were going to return, we told him later on that evening. He looked at us incredulously and asked, "Are you sure?" and followed up with an "Well, okay, if you say so...."

That should have been our first clue.


Well on our way to getting lost

The hike turned out to be fairly steep and the trail was primitive with no signage at all, often devolving into confusing underbrush. At one point we got lost and went around in a huge circle coming back to a point that looked familiar: "Weren't we just here 20 minutes ago?!"

Thankfully a guide showed up. He was leading a couple from Bogota, and he showed us where the trail continued:


This was the trail. You had to squeeze through these rocks. No signs. How were you supposed to figure that out?!


Cotton-top Tamarin Monkey

The Cotton-top Tamarin is an endangered species and is only found in the forests around Tayrona and north-western Colombia. It's the rarest primate in existence having had its natural habitat reduced to 5% of its original area. I can imagine this little guy looking down at us thinking, "Damn kids, get off my lawn!"


Kogi boy leads his horse through the mountains

We had been hiking for a couple of hours now and still no sign of the ruins of the old village, Pueblito, which was on the way to the coastline. We wanted to hit the beaches of Tayrona, which everyone told us were quite wonderful. While resting, we were passed by a boy and an older man walking their horse up the trail. They were dressed in the same way as the hippy-looking guy we saw in Taganga the other day. We found out later that they were all members of the Kogi tribe, an indigenous people native to Tayrona. They told us the village was only half an hour away.

Holy geez, this was a lot further than what it looked like on our tiny map of Tayrona Park.


Village of Pueblito

There are 20,000 Kogi living in the Santa Marta area. They were quite an advanced civilization before the Spanish came, colonizing Colombia and driving them into the mountains where they live to this day. We found out that they are very spiritual and ecologically conscious, their belief that the earth is a living being and humanity its children.

These people were the original long-haired hippies, long before the flower-children of the 60s!


These striped bags are very typical of Koni culture

Most of the men were carrying these toy-like objects that kind of look like dreidels, except that it was like a white receptacle mounted on a stick. They would rub the outside with another stick and occasionally put it in their mouths. It looked like it had religious significance, but we found out later that these were called poporo, and is given to a Kogi male upon his 18th birthday. The inside of the receptacle is a mixture of lime and coca and is actually a stimulant which helps to ward off fatigue and hunger.

I think this is my favorite part of our travels, seeing up close how people used to live. I was never interested in history and geography when I was a kid, but our trip has opened up a curiousity that I never knew existed.


Kogi village of Pueblito

We asked the guide how much further to the coast. He told us we were halfway.

This shocked us, as we were already 2.5 hours into our hike, which meant another 2.5 hours to get the shore, and then 5 hours back to our motorcycles. We had left late in the morning and by our calculations would not make it back until well after sunset if we stayed on this course.

The guide offered us another suggestion, from the beach, we could walk a bit further up and catch a bus to the entrance on the other side of the park. That would be a quicker way to get back. When I heard the word, "bus", I was all over that plan...


Yay! We finally made it!

We followed the guide and the couple from Bogota to the beach and finally arrived to the beaches of Cabo San Juan. It was like a mini resort with a restaurant, several huts and tons of tents pitched up by hikers. This should have been another clue that Tayrona was not a single day hike...


Beach at Cabo San Juan





Posing proudly with the Colombian flag


Frolicking at Cabo San Juan


More frolicking

It was getting late in the afternoon and we had no idea where to catch this bus back to the entrance, so we tore ourselves away from the beach and followed the coastline in search of a way out of this park.


Bye bye, beach!

We got about 45 minutes away from the resort and still no sign of any bus. We asked a beach-side vendor and she told us it was a couple of hours away!

A couple of hours? It was already 4PM, and it would definitely be dark by the time we reached the bus. I was very upset. No one around here has any reliable information! And no signs anywhere! Throughout this trip, we had decided that our number one rule was we would never ride or walk around after dark (even though we've broken it a few times), and now it looked like this was inevitable again.

We were now racing against the setting sun, so no pictures even though we hiked through some fantastic beaches with the setting sun casting a magical glow on the sands. We had a bus to catch.

Once again, the trail was poorly marked and we followed some other tourists through some underbrush that turned out to be a dead-end. Going our own way, we ventured back into forest to pick up another trail, but by this time, the canopy and diminishing sunlight meant we were hiking in near darkness. Neda pulled out her iPhone and ran her flashlight application. Battery level less than 30%. Uh oh.

Meanwhile in the ever-frightening darkness, we could hear sounds of animals moving around close to the trail we were on. A bat flew past my head brushing past my hair. We saw glowing points of light that looked like the nocturnal eyes of beasts that prey on lost hikers in the northern Colombian forest. That freaked us out plenty and I came up with a plan of making as much noise as possible, clapping my hands and talking loudly.

We came upon some other hikers coming our way and they smirked at my hand-clapping. "Um, los animales...", I offered up lamely... As it turns out, the glowing eyes were actually fireflies. I was clapping my hands in the dark at fireflies. What a big city dope I am. The hikers told us it was another 45 minutes, so we stumbled ahead and finally found the bus after what turned out to be a 10-hour, 17.5 km hike through the Tayrona National Park. Day-hike my ass.

*phew* I need a bed now...
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  #220  
Old 1 Jan 2014
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That sounds like a pretty fun day.

Happy New Year's guys.
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  #221  
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That sounds like a pretty fun day.

Happy New Year's guys.
Thanks Mark! Happy New Years to you too!

Hey, you guys are leaving on your travels soon, aren't you? Like in 3 months or so? You must be excited!
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  #222  
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Thanks Mark! Happy New Years to you too!

Hey, you guys are leaving on your travels soon, aren't you? Like in 3 months or so? You must be excited!

Excited doesn't begin to cover it, I'm sure you know. 133 days, 19hrs-ish - the countdown is on...
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  #223  
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Awesome adventure guys. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts and following your travels. The photo's you guys have taken along the way are stunning. Thanks for sharing your adventure.
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Updated from Dec 05 2013: The Lion and the Bear, and a touch of Dengue



Neda is getting impatient.

It's been a month since we arrived in Taganga, and since then, barring the occasional trip outside our hotel to grab a bite to eat, I've been content to watch the hot, lazy march of days file past our balcony window. If this was a movie, there'd be a time-lapse shot of the sun rising and setting about 30 or so times over the bay of Taganga with me in the foreground lying motionless in a hammock.

But Neda is getting impatient.


Binge watching TV shows. Seven seasons of Bones flash by in the blink of an eye...

After our dash (yet again) through Central America to catch the ship to Cartagena, this is the first real opportunity to relax and not have any appointments in front of us. I needed the world to shrink to the size of this small town... actually, I was even happy having the whole world be the size of our room overlooking the beach.

For Neda, Taganga was too small. Even her bi-weekly ride to Santa Marta was not enough. Although we both agreed we weren't ready to be nomadic again, she needed a larger homebase to settle in - hopefully somewhere with a well-equipped kitchen so she could pursue her love of cooking, instead of eating out of tiny cube fridge in the room. I felt like I was living with a caged lion, pacing restlessly back and forth in the confined little space of this tiny Caribbean resort-town.

To be fair, if Neda wrote this blog entry, it would read, "I felt like I was living with a hibernating bear."


Our friends from the Stahlratte, Simon (with his IV) and Anne

I did manage to make it outside of Taganga a few times. We've been keeping in contact with the travelers we met on the Stahlratte and we were surprised that our backpacking friends, Simon and Anne from Germany, were still in Colombia. In fact they were in Santa Marta, just down the road. Because of our glacial travel pace, we've watched all the motorcycle travelers from the Darien Gap crossing zoom past us to points further south.

Unfortunately, the reason why they were still in town was because Simon got the dreaded Dengue Fever. It's quite a nasty sickness, with two stages: an initial flu-like period lasting 4 days, and then a critical phase from Day 4-10 when the illness could develop into a fatal Hemorrhagic Fever. I suspect he got bitten in mosquito-infested Cartagena - the incubation period is anywhere from a few days till up to two weeks!


Simon's doctor Wendy and her young son take us for some Dengue Therapy

We visited Simon in Santa Marta and found out his doctor was based in Taganga, just down the street from our hotel. So the next time he came into town for his check-up, we also dropped into the clinic to see how he was doing. His doctor was super-nice, she told us she modeled her patient-care style around Patch Adams, the old Robin Williams movie, treating her patients less impersonally and more like friends.

We got that sense right away - Because it was the weekend and it was supposed to be her day off, Wendi was going to take Simon and Anne to the beach for some outdoor recuperation. And we were invited too! What a cool doctor!


You don't need to contract Dengue Fever to enjoy a dip in the ocean!


Wendy's son inspects the day's catch


The beaches where we lounged for the day was also a homebase for some local fishermen


We watched as they pulled some of the nets ashore

The owner of the Dive Centre where we're staying also invited us out on one of the dives. He lent us some snorkeling equipment and we got to swim around the corals with his scuba customers. It's not the best time of year for scuba, there's a lot of wind and the choppy waters didn't make for clear viewing underwater, but hey, it was free and it was a really nice gesture on the owner's part


< Cue Jaws music >





Brain coral


This was the last picture my (not-so) waterproof camera took

I was planning to do some dive videography, but unfortunately, my waterproof camera got waterlogged and went belly-up. Second waterproof camera to die a watery death on this trip. That was kind of disappointing. This was all I could salvage before the camera turned into an expensive brick:



I like Taganga a lot. I wouldn't have minded staying here to relax a bit longer, but Neda need somewhere a bit more homey so we're packing our panniers and climbing back on the bikes tomorrow to find a more suitable place to settle down for a bit longer!
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Old 6 Feb 2014
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Finally did it: Jobs Quitted. Home Solded. Gone Riding!!!

We had our Olympus die while doing some underwater video last year. Bought a brand new underwater camera at Costco - next day it died as well. Took it back, they said they've been getting a lot of them back due to leaks. That's when I said we're getting a gopro.
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