June 28, 2013
Flew across the United States for my court date. Had a transformer go out at the court. They called and said we'll have to reschedule. Thanks for that.
The Cost of Sanity
I get home tonight, and there's no one screaming at me and calling me a jackass. Last time she was here, I was hiding in the guest bedroom, cowering in fear in the dark like a wounded animal. Thinking....this isn't right. A man shouldn't have to hide in his own house. A man shouldn't be held hostage in his own house by a psychotic screaming woman.
So, I guess this is the cost of sanity. She leaves me and goes and terrorizes another poor hapless man. I should call him and offer him my condolences. Nah. He'll figure it out at some point, I'm sure.
Meanwhile, I think I'll go to sleep, alone, in my own bed, with no one screaming at me. And a nice cool breeze coming through the open window. And no psychotic women screaming.
June 26, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama
Above: A self portrait of me driving down the PanAmerican Highway through Panama, immediately after crossing the border from Costa Rica.
The woman I loved more than any woman I ever met has left me, so I decided that I need to go on the biggest road trip ever to try to clear my head. Over the last month or so, I drove my KTM 990 Adventure from Moline, Illinois to Panama City, Panama.
The bike I drove is a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure that I bought new off the showroom floor in Moline, Illinois. I purchased the bike as a Christmas present to myself six months ago, and just told them to hold it for me until I could come and pick it up.
Jen was wrapping up her freshman year, I wrapped up my project in San Francisco. Carrie decided that she was done with me and started going out with a new guy. So, all of the sudden, I went from commuting between SF, Denver, and Jackson, to pretty much having nothing to do with my time except to focus on how bored and lonely I was.
Instead of sitting around and stewing in my misery, I decided to hit the road on a motorcycle adventure I've always planned on taking, but never really found the time or the impetus to actually initiate.
These photos were all captured over a one month period in May-June of 2013 where I drove the bike from Moline, Illinois, to Panama City, Panama, a journey of over 5,600 miles. The photos were all shot on a Canon EOS 50D with one of the following lenses:
- EF-S 17-85mm f/4.5-5.6 IS USM image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom
- EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM image-stabilized, ultra-sonic telescopic zoom
This trip is broken into two different slideshows.
The first slideshow covers the trip through Illinois, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The first slideshow starts out with Stay by Rhiana, one of the many songs that Carrie used to sing to me in the car, followed by Today Has Been Okay by Emiliana Torrini. I heard this song on Grey's Anatomy in Nicaragua (I think) and liked it. The third song is A-Team by Ed Sheeran, another favorite of Carrie's because we convinced her that the lyrics included the following: "A bee stung my neck and made me scream..I peed in a jar of cold cream...", etc.
The images in the first slideshow are compiled into a 90 Meg (9:20) Adobe Flash slideshow (Panama1.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (Panama1.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.
The second slideshow covers the trip from Costa Rica to Panama.
The soundtrack for the second slideshow is Home by Philip Phillips.
The images are compiled into a 32 Meg (3:28) Adobe Flash slideshow (Panama2.swf) that you should be able to open and view with any browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.). To view the slideshow, just click on the photo above. If you want to view the slideshow as a Windows executable, you can play this version (Panama2.exe), and it allows you to play, pause, skip forward, backwards, etc.
Click here to view the other slideshows.
Lyrics in the extended entry.
7/7 9:41:32 PM Carrie > Rob: So you had fun playing in the sand huh?
7/7 9:41:43 PM Rob > Carrie: Hmmmm
7/7 9:41:54 PM Rob > Carrie: 601 area code....
7/7 9:41:57 PM Rob > Carrie: Hmmmm
7/7 9:42:06 PM Rob > Carrie: Do i know u?
7/7 9:42:11 PM Rob > Carrie: ;)
7/7 9:42:33 PM Carrie > Rob: Hmmmm....what?
7/7 9:42:54 PM Carrie > Rob: Ha ....carrie silly
7/7 9:43:57 PM Rob > Carrie: Ize jest messn w u
7/7 9:44:16 PM Carrie > Rob: So you got your bike all fixed up for more riding now huh?
7/7 9:44:18 PM Rob > Carrie: Pismo was INSANE!
7/7 9:44:34 PM Rob > Carrie: Yep. New tires. New front brakes. New chain.
7/7 9:45:12 PM Carrie > Rob: Whats pismo like?
7/7 9:45:33 PM Carrie > Rob: Insane how?
7/7 9:45:48 PM Rob > Carrie: Pismo was a zoo. Its just all these adrenaline junkies racing across 1,400 acres of sand dunes.
7/7 9:46:06 PM Rob > Carrie: No roads. No rules. Just madness.
7/7 9:46:51 PM Rob > Carrie: Dirt bikes. ATVs. Hummers. Jeeps.
7/7 9:47:20 PM Rob > Carrie: All zipping around helter-skelter through the dunes
7/7 9:47:20 PM Carrie > Rob: Wow ok. Have you been there before today?
7/7 9:47:27 PM Rob > Carrie: Yeah
7/7 9:47:56 PM Carrie > Rob: Thats awesome!!!
7/7 9:48:06 PM Rob > Carrie: I've been everywhere. Now i just go back to see how places have changed
7/7 9:48:21 PM Carrie > Rob: I would love that!!!
7/7 9:48:28 PM Rob > Carrie: :)
7/7 9:48:52 PM Carrie > Rob: I see...well that's nice
7/7 9:48:52 PM Rob > Carrie: Pismo is really hard to imagine.
7/7 9:49:15 PM Rob > Carrie: I'll have to send you some shots
7/7 9:50:25 PM Carrie > Rob: Krelynn2@gmail.com or i have pic texts just whatever.
7/7 9:51:06 PM Carrie > Rob: So where are you now?
7/7 9:52:06 PM Rob > Carrie: Its very dangerous there. Every time i get to the lip of a dune I sorta pray someone isnt flying up the hill from the other side see?
7/7 9:52:27 PM Rob > Carrie: How do u have a 5300 number?
7/7 9:53:00 PM Rob > Carrie: Are you running a crack house?
7/7 9:54:45 PM Carrie > Rob: What are you talking about nut!!?? Its the number i was given forever ago and where crackhouse come from...you're good!!! Lol
7/7 9:56:17 PM Rob > Carrie: Well, you hav to admit its sort of got a "pro" type of ring to it
7/7 9:56:50 PM Rob > Carrie: My other nbr is 303-555-8000
7/7 9:57:08 PM Carrie > Rob: Lol easy to remember
7/7 9:57:50 PM Carrie > Rob: Wat it is to?
7/7 9:58:06 PM Rob > Carrie: Im just fvckn w i
7/7 9:58:14 PM Rob > Carrie: With u i meant
7/7 9:58:26 PM Rob > Carrie: I dont have another nbr
7/7 9:58:33 PM Rob > Carrie: Only this 1
7/7 9:58:53 PM Rob > Carrie: How was tubing?
7/7 9:58:58 PM Rob > Carrie: Pics?
7/7 10:02:40 PM Rob > Carrie:
7/7 10:03:31 PM Carrie > Rob: Only 2 they're on Facebook. It flooded for a while but the camp was awesome. They had open walk thru bar w bigscreen tv and right on sand bar. So i only took 2 pics ....then wouldn't pull it back out floating..
7/7 10:04:35 PM Rob > Carrie: Ok. I havent even checked fb. Ive been going 95 mph for the last 3 hours...
7/7 10:04:18 PM Carrie > Rob: Here's one!
7/7 10:05:32 PM Carrie > Rob: Heres number 2
7/7 10:06:48 PM Carrie > Rob: Ha well just sent em to ya so u don't have to go to Facebook
7/7 10:06:56 PM Rob > Carrie: Better
7/7 10:07:23 PM Rob > Carrie: Gimme names please...
7/7 11:27:57 PM Rob > Carrie: Did someone fall asleep ;)
7/8 5:41:03 AM Carrie > Rob: Yes i did with my phone on my chest! Sorry! Was trying to stay up bit was so tired! Names are from left to right Will Summers, his wife jessica, my daughter Alyssa(14), the old woman me, my son Bryce(16), and Sage Mabile. Depending which picture you look at Bryce and Alyssa may be on opposite sides of me. Alyssa swears she has a "better" side. Aggravates Bryce to death.
7/8 5:44:35 AM Carrie > Rob: We were also there amongst other people i knew from the area. They remodeled that camp and it was too nice for Bogue Chitto! The older ones were friends w my oldest son growing up and I basically raised them. They love me and come home to me like Im their mom:)
7/8 2:32:23 PM Rob > Carrie: Very cool
7/8 2:33:15 PM Rob > Carrie: Wish i was there. Havent been down that river in eins.
7/8 2:35:48 PM Rob > Carrie: Eons
7/8 2:36:18 PM Rob > Carrie: Been walking around sf w my sister and her family
7/8 2:36:45 PM Rob > Carrie: Just ran through chinatown
7/8 2:39:54 PM Rob > Carrie: Happy Birthday, Carrie!!!
7/8 2:40:31 PM Carrie > Rob: :) awesome! ! Saw and liked a pic. When we came out of church tonight my daughter and i went out by the pool to talk which is not abnormal ....but all the while my son was setting up suprise party inside! It was so sweet. My kids are so wonderful! I've had the best weekend a mom could ask for with her kids!
7/8 2:40:34 PM Carrie > Rob: Thank you Rob!!
7/8 2:41:28 PM Rob > Carrie: So cool that they did that for you. They must really love their mom :)
7/8 2:43:49 PM Carrie > Rob: They do:)...& i them!!
7/8 2:44:36 PM Carrie > Rob: Ha meant this morning not tonight lol
7/8 8:05:53 PM Carrie > Rob: The picture of the bike you put on my Facebook page. Is it missing a seat or am i nuts??
7/8 8:35:45 PM Rob > Carrie: U may be nuts...
7/8 8:36:16 PM Rob > Carrie: But youre right, the bike is completely torn apart in this shot :P
7/8 8:37:53 PM Carrie > Rob: Ha ha i am little crazy...but there is absolutely no fun in being 100% sane all the time!! Was wondering bout bike tho
7/8 8:48:53 PM Rob > Carrie: Ok...so...about the bike....
7/8 8:48:58 PM Rob > Carrie: Haha...
7/8 8:50:35 PM Carrie > Rob: Nut!! You answered it on bike!!
7/8 8:50:53 PM Rob > Carrie: Wow...thats a good story ...about how i lost 2 vehicles so far this year...
7/8 8:51:21 PM Rob > Carrie: I have not had a good year so far as transportation goes
7/8 8:51:46 PM Rob > Carrie: Sucks
7/8 8:53:09 PM Carrie > Rob: Hows you lose em
7/8 9:00:10 PM Rob > Carrie: Its a long story...
7/8 9:00:18 PM Rob > Carrie: Its a beer story
7/8 9:00:33 PM Rob > Carrie: You have to buy me a beer to find out
7/8 9:09:18 PM Rob > Carrie: ;)
Some days I long to touch you so much you just can't know
I carry your smile and our memories with me everywhere I go
Like a ghost you haunt me for you're here but its not real
I can close my eyes and hear your voice and your touch, I promise I can feel
It keeps me going. Holding on these memories I have of you
The love we share is everywhere no matter what I do
I grow weary needing to feel you close and fall in your embrace
To see your smile, touch your hand, feel my lips upon your face
Sometimes we hurt the ones we love the most when life gets in the way
Im sorry I let you down I don't know what else to say
When I am with you, there is no place I'd rather be
And when we are apart, there's a hole within my soul anyone can see
You are the man I love and will love now and always no matter come what may
In my heart your love and memories will forever and always stay
No matter what you feel, I think your beautiful, strong, and smart
And my sweet handsome, you have every part of me, including the most important part, my heart
So no matter what becomes of us, if you leave me, im not like the girls before
You can search the world over, but no other will love you more
In closing I will tell you Im your baby, your hot mess, even when I mess up
I will always love you, be your best friend, and your little buttercup
Happy Valentine's Day
I tried to call and send you something to your office for Valentine's Day and 1 or 2 things kept happening. Either they were booked up, or so rude It made me hate everything about what I was setting out to do driven by love. Colorado was much more pleasant when getting Jen taken care of. Thank God SF is more beautiful than most of its residents! ;) So, I decided to write to you instead. ( poor thing like I haven't done that already, huh?)
Rob as our days go up and down sometimes like a roller coaster, it's imperative to me you really know how much sweeter my life is with you in it. I cant imagine it without you. It becomes more and more difficult for both of us with the miles in-between I know. Being a needy woman, I give into to my loneliness for you....you being a man with the distance you take me naturally for granted sticking me last and we clash. Neither of us meaning to. But I'm sorry and in the end I love you more and I'm learning. I cant imagine how much more I could love you if given the chance to actually be with you.
You are the most beautiful soul to me. Your smile, your hands, your laugh, Rob there is no other that could take your place. One of the best days of my life was saying yes to coming out to SF . You've easily become my best friend and the love of my life. Im sorry I get ill tempered sometimes. I'm gonna work on that:)
You are wonderful and I love you. I look forward to many Valentine's days...and my first motorcycle ride...and you snapping my head off because I cant work a camera....or Im being too whiny.... days with our kids....but mostly I just look forward to more of anything with you.
Happy Valentine's Day baby till I see you again:)
I love you so much
From: Carrie Davis [firstname.lastname@example.org]
On May 20, 2013 8:31 PM, Carrie Davis [email@example.com] wrote:
The last couple of months have been indescribable....
The last year like a dream or a fairy tale no one gets to live out
How could something so perfect go so wrong?
I remember his gentleness in his smile and the comfort and protection I found within him
Also the sadness as it faded away like I was watching him sail away on a yacht leaving me on a deserted island standing ankle deep in the ocean crying for him to return
There are no words for the pain that comes with loving someone you know can't love you the same
Even worse loving someone who chooses not to
Yet alone to his memory of our love I was faithful and forgiving until the memory began to fade
His voice no longer kind his words no warmth
I longed to be his Angel... to feel his love ...to even see I miss you..and I love you rather than I luv u
The nights I slept by my phone..cried alone..made excuses..made him better even to myself than what he was
I even believed my own lies...so sad
Then I remembered who I was.. the woman God made me before I devoted myself to him
He never knew my pain..he looked at me as a problematic obligation
It was over...moving on how odd not to talk w him
A new face across a table...his hands aren't soft like his but they are holding mine
I think how long it has been since Robert walked hand in hand with me or held mine anymore and I sigh
His face ..everything foreign.. he stares at my eyes and listens to me
He thinks I'm beautiful and stops me in mid sentence just to tell me
He admires my job and touches nothing but my hands and my arms and I search his face as I think back to Robert
How hard moving on is but he accepts me he accepts the new me
The real me that wants everything God intended all along
He's not perfect and he's not after my body tho I can tell he likes what he sees
My mind drifts as we drive
This is what dating is like
I had forgotten
I wanted the fairy tale so much
I settled for lonely desperate
attempts to make Robert happy when I was good enough already
Every touch is different but that's good
No one will ever be Robert
He was my only fairy tale
How do I kiss another
But everything is sweet and my
loneliness is gone
I'm happy in the moments
Robert wants me back
He's so different
His voice...his gentleness
Nothing I've ever heard
It drives stakes thru my heart
I wasn't good enough at my best
And now that he took the best that I had to give him
He wants me at my worst?
I don't understand
I'm no good for him now and he can't see it
I'm a shell of the woman he loved
Incomplete of the way i once was
I cry still
All I ever wanted I gave it up
Put it behind me
Quit begging and pleading
Now he wants what's left of me for him but he doesn't understand she's not much
She's moved on to another place and isn't sure how to get back
I see flowers that I used to pray would come and my daughter watches me cry as she asks mama are you OK?
Through a quivering voice I say no not really baby
She says what are you gonna do
I say I dunno what to do
My heart is split into
One side is sad and one is happy
But both has feelings
She said go with the part that is happy mama
I think death could be easier than this
I longed for the day to have him scream to the world his love
Yet his discontent came first
His unconcern his mockery of my devotion in so many ways
Now the heart I never wanted to break is breaking but I didn't do it but he's breaking mine again
Another is mending me and he is breaking as fast as he comforts
This is torturous hell
I love Robert ....
But my heart has been shattered and mislead
The promise of new life awaits from my deserted Island on a small Fishing vessel with promise of no return and no more lonely days waiting for my yacht to return
and answer my lonely cries
Why he could not see me? Why could he not hear me?
I'm the same today as I was then? How could things be this way?
How could he bring me a fairy tale
to turn me into sleeping beauty for another's kiss to wake me?
What is the answer?
What is he really looking for?
June 25, 2013
Our San Francisco
Fwd: Our San Francisco-thank you Robert for bringing this all to me.... I wish you could remember ....I wish you would've read
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: "Carrie Davis"
Date: Mar, 2013 4:18 PM
Subject: Our San Francisco- thank you Robert for bringing this all to me....
To: "Rob Kiser"
He wandered in my life like a stranger off the street
A warm smile on his face, and a wild streak for life
We laughed oh we laughed as his light mixed with mine like a disco ball
Anyone looking on fell dim in our shadows
They say life can give you a fairytale but we all know this is not true
Oh but it is
We lived it out in a bitter cold July weekend in San Francisco
Chinatown, Stockton, Lombard, Mission&Velejo , Coit Tower, Bay Bridge, the Golden Gate, North Beach..
Taking pictures, walking, driving
In car , out of car, windows down, out of the sunroof
Beaches, quaint cafes, bars, to street vendors we found it all
Murals, the stories in the eyes of the homeless, beautiful parks, alleys, to sunset ocean views off breezy cliffs
Magical is not enough to describe that Summer in San Francisco
Better than the views was the hand I held
The eyes that sparkled in mine
The smile that stole my breath then shared it back with a gentle kiss
Warm, smooth gentle hands that touched me as though he was handling a fragile crystal flute
The world spun around us and we never knew
In July ....a Cold Summer in San Fransisco I found a sweet, hot romance but better yet
I fell in love with who is now my best friend and the love of my life.
If there is a more beautiful city my eyes will never know because my heart will always see San Fransisco as the most beautiful of all
Goodbye, Buttercup :)
Just so you know I still think of you everyday. I pray for your safety. Pray someone will love you like I did and you will love them back before its too late tho it will not be me. I know we are under this same big sky some how and it brings me comfort to know you realize that im not a psychotic freak but remember the real woman behind the pictures... texts....love....and smile. So when and if you pray. Please pray for me too:) I am happy but I longed to be loved forever and not just when someone realizes they've lost me.. I'm ready to start a real life. Give the love God's gifted me with. So I pray this finds you well and touches you as its intended. Many thoughts and prayers sent your way my constant traveler...rambling..evasive love.
On Jun, 2013 3:22 PM, "Rob Kiser"
Thank you angel. Very sweet. I'll always miss you. I hope you find happiness. :)
From: Carrie Davis [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, June, 2013 5:12 AM
To: Rob Kiser
I will always follow from afar and I require no reply
My biggest regret of all our time is I ever made you cry
Of all the world I know my confusion and pain led me astray
But every day I'll think of you and remember you when I pray
Let me take this moment to let you see through my view
All the many things I'm thankful for in you
Though our time has passed I will remember you and smile
And thank God for the love we shared if it was only for a while
From San Francisco to the Mountains of the Colorado sky
Your crazy, your kindness, your love was worth every question why
Every sweet memory, even those that brought about some pain
Was worth so much , even in loss it was all gain
You will evermore be a light in this heart where your scar will never leave
You showed me how to love in which I once had lost will to believe
Your travels give me hope, your pictures light my way
I will always follow you from afar for I know this is where I must stay
Remember the song be still for I am with you, keep faith for this is true
No matter where you go , God and I both will be loving you
Take care my weary traveler, I'm not crazy, I needed time but I now move ahead
But my light is bright and because of you I have nothing left to dread
From coast to coast my flying bird if you are I will always be
A bird singing softly on the wind listen and I will always be close... close your eyes and you will see
Thank you for everything Robert.
Thank you for being you
The KTM 990 Adventure showed up at FedEx on Friday, June 21, as promised. But I couldn't find the FedEx cargo office at the Jackson International Airport before they closed for the day on Friday. Finally found them, and went in Monday Morning to liberate the bike - was told it hadn't cleared customs. Big surprise, right? No one at FedEx had a clue about how to get a bike through customs, but they were willing to figure it out. So, I was patient. They sent me to the customs office, which I found by the UPS office. Customs wasn't sure what to do either, but finally just had me fill out a little form. Took this back to FedEx, they called back to customs to verify the release, and then they gave me my bike.
Brought it out back in the heat of the day on a forklift. I cut apart the "shipping crate", mainly cardboard and packing tape with a knife. Then, I had a bike with flat tires and empty gas tank. Poured in about a gallon of gas. Aired up the tires as best I could with a small compressor. Then, the bike was essentially mobile.
Called Web and had him follow me back to Molly's in Sarah's car, while I drove the bike. We drove through a pretty good rainstorm on the way. Took Web back in Sarah's car. Finally got Sarah's car home. Return Will's air compressor.
Today, Lily said she wanted to go for a ride, so I reinstalled the fairing, and put a California plate on the bike. Then I realized the tires were still too low, so I bought an air gauge and went to a service station. Asked her to turn on the air, and she laughed at me.
"You gotta have quarters," she explained.
"Well, in California, they just turn the air on for you. It's a state law. They have to," I offered.
"Well, this is the dirty South. You got to pay for everything here. How's it feel?" she asks, snidely.
So, I paid a dollar and filled up the tires.
Then, I borrowed a helmet from Will and took Lilly for a ride. She's never been on a motorcycle, so I took her for a little ride through the country. She liked it, I think. We didn't go very fast...maybe about 95 mph I think, at the most. But it handles a lot differently with two people on it. I didn't want to push it.
I made her wear a helmet, gloves, leather jacket, pants, and close-toed shoes. Somehow, we survived the trip.
June 20, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 32: Panama City, Panama
Update 2: I'm safe at my sister's trailer in Madison, Mississippi, relaxing in the shade beneath the porch with the possums and a hog snake. Molly says the electricity should be turned back on when the government check comes at the first of the month.
Update: I am desperately trying to flee the country of Panama, via the Passenger Terminal at the Tocumen Airport in Panama City, Panama.
Thursday June 20, 2013
June 19, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 31: Panama City, Panama
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Riande at the Tocumen Airport in Panama City, Panama.
Wednesday June 19, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 5,539
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,602
Miles driven today: 63 miles
Local Currency: US Dollars
1 US Dollar = 1 US Dollar
June 18, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 30: Panama City, Panama
Above: Mi amigo Fernando selling cups of Pipa (ice cold coconut milk) for something insane like 65 cents at lunch time at the Carga Terminal for the Tocumen Airport.
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Bahia Suites in Panama City, Panama.
Tuesday June 18, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 5,529
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,539
Miles driven today: 10 miles
Local Currency: US Dollars
1 US Dollar = 1 US Dollar
June 17, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 29: Panama City, Panama
Above: Weighing the KTM 990 Adventure at ServiCarga for shipping back to the United States.
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Riande Hotel at the Tocumen Airport, in Panama City, Panama.
Monday June 17, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 5,523
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,529
Miles driven today: 6 miles
Local Currency: US Dollars
1 US Dollar = 1 US Dollar
Today has been OK
June 16, 2013
Shipping a bike from Panama to the USA
American Airlines, and Arrow Air have air cargo service to Miami. There are several air cargo companies that also do it.
COPA said that a motorcycle shipment to the USA requires a pure cargo aircraft, which they do not send to the USA. They suggested DHL...
Antonio Cabazas' bike shop is located in the financial district in Panama City. He was also the President of the APM (Association of Panamanian Motorcyclists). Antonio has contacts to get anything done and helps getting one out of tough situations. Contact Info:
N8 59.557 W79 31.292
email for Antonio Cabatony@cableonda.net
Casa De Carmen is a great hostel five doors down from Antiono's shop. This hostel has all the amenities for overlanders.
Casa De Carmen
N8 59.603 W79 31.258
Telephone: +507 263 4366
BMW Panama City - Bavarian Motors
Address: Edificio BMW Calle 50 y 65
N8 59.385 W79 30.715
If in the dealership and you need a great English speaker go the car section and ask for Armando. He helps travelers and loves motorcycles.
Their Chief Mechanic Luis is very helpful.
Luis' work phone +507 301 5400
OK. I have figured out how to dial out from the hotel to another number in Panama City...I have to dial 9 , and then the last seven digits of the number. I got that much figured out. But, then the people that answer the phone at BMW, well I just can't get much done at that point. KInda tough.
ABSA Cargo Airline Fortaleza, Guayaquil, Manaus, Miami, Quito
Cielos del Perú
DHL Aviation operated by DHL Aero Expreso
Líneas Aéreas Suramericanas
TAB - Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos Miami, Santa Cruz de la Sierra-Viru Viru
So, it looks like ABSA Cargo (Now TAM) and Transportes Aéreos Bolivianos (TAB cargo)
"i need to fly my motorcycle to Miami by airplane" = "tengo que volar mi moto a Miami en avión"
Cargo translates to Carga. So...necessito aeropuerto de carga.
Here's the Tocumen Airport Website: http://www.tocumenpanama.aero
I'm shocked that the Tocumen Airport website is down. That's a real shocker there. I tell you. Wonder if they answer the phone....
Well knock me over with a feather. They don't answer the phone either. Hmmmm.
Shipping the bike back to USA
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 28: Antón to Panama City, Panama
Above: Looking north at the Panama Canal from the Puente Centenario (Centenario Bridge) near Paraiso, Panama City, Panama.
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Riande Hotel at the Tocumen Airport, in Panama City, Panama.
Sunday June 16, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 5,395
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,523
Miles driven today: 128 miles
Local Currency: US Dollars
1 US Dollar = 1 US Dollar
Crossing the Darien Gap
Since the Darien gap is probably the most difficult part of travelling
the Americas, I wrote this up for other travellers....
Between Panama and Colombia, the Darien gap is a stretch of about 80
miles where there is no road. To cross it involves a sharp machete, a
strong arm, good mosquito repellent, malaria prophylactic, food, and
lots of patience. Also, timing must be in the dry season. I've only
heard of three successful vehicle crossings. All of whom have written
books about their many week ordeal. Since the early '90s, crossing the
Darien on foot is considered by most locals as dangerous since it has
recently become a channel for drug smugglers from Colombia.
For most normal people, including those only slightly abnormal, this
leaves three options. Fly, take a boat, or turn around.
Flying across the Darien
Flying is certainly the easiest. It's an option for motorcyclists, but
not for cars or trucks which must take a boat.
There are several air cargo freighters that will ship a motorcycle. In
both Bogota and Panama city, the best place to research this yourself
in Bogota is at the main airport, or in Panama City at the old
airport now called the cargo airport.
Of the air cargo freighter that would transport a motorcycle to Bogota,
I went with Girag Air Cargo and found procedures to be easy and straight
forward. I heard good things about Servi Carga from two independent
Girag Air Cargo (Cargo Three, Inc.) Phone in city: 26-5775, 26-3173,
26-5477, Fax 26-5477
Phone at Tocumen: 238-4326, 238-4289, 238-4397, 238-4091,
In Bogota: 571-414-7010,571-414-7011,571-414-7012
413-5349, 413-5358, 413-5093, 413-5087,
Cost was $250 cash or TC per motorcycle
In Bogota they are located at the main airport.
In Panama City, they are located at the cargo airport
(old Tocumen airport)
Servi Carga. phone: 223-1144, 238-4165, 238-4162, 238-4286, 238-4250
cost is $250 per motorcycle + $33 handling.
Pacific Airlines. located at the old cargo Tocumen airport. They quoted
me $500 cash per motorcycle.
Continental Airlines will ship a motorcycle to Ecuador, either Guayaquil
or Quito. However motorcycle must be delivered crated.
free of oil, gas, battery and tire pressure.
Guess of price by clerk was $400 per motorcycle.
We dropped our motorcycles off in the afternoon at Girag dock at the old
airport in Panama city, We drained the gas tank and left. It showed up
the next day in the Girag warehouse near the Bogota airport just as we had
left them. See Customs at the bottom...
In Colombia, and maybe also in Panama, gas station sell plastic gas bags
for carrying gas. For approximately, $.50 one can buy a plastic bag at
Texaco for carrying up to two gallons of gas, which you'll likely need
on arrival with a dry tank. There is a gas station less than 1km from
the airport, so not much gas is needed.
For you, not your vehicle, there are several flights from Panama to
Bogota per day on Copa, Avianca and Aces. We flew on Aces and would
recommend it. Flight time is approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes and
all seats are business class at economy prices. Cost was $168 for all
the airlines above mentioned, one way. No problem booking flight at
the last minute.
WGS84 GPS coordinates for Panama.
Tocumen Airport N9d04.006, W79d23.291
Cargo Airport N9d05.232, W79d22.314
By Sea around the Darien Gap
The Crucero express is a ferry service that operated for 6-18 months
depending on who one talks to. However, it has stopped running almost 2
years ago. Rumor has it that the boat now runs from Cancun to Miami.
There are no current plans for a replacement ferry service.
There are a number of options of how to cross by boat, but no yet well
established method, and so all options require a lot of foot work. I
would recommend allowing 1-2 weeks to arrange, plus 3-4 days in
crossing. However, I've heard costs as low as $200* for motorcycle and
passenger, (BIG asterisk here... see below)
One way to cross is by container ship. One rents a 10x20x10 foot
container which is large enough for two cars/trucks, or four
motorcycles. These typically go for $1000 plus $100 to load, and $100
to unload for a total of $1200. Great if you can pair up vehicles with
someone else. The alternative to renting a container would be to find a
ship that takes open cargo. These are more difficult to find.
This type of travel is arranged through a port agency, who acts as cargo
schedulers for a couple of boats. Port agencies are usually centrally
located, so one can walk around to the various ones, and ask about
various boats. Most boats in Panama load in Colon, and so I'm told it's
best to go there despite the reputation of the city. My information was
gathered in Panama City.
In Panama city, there are several port agencies grouped together at
WGS84 coordinates N8d57.534, W79d33.647. OTC is a port agent at these
coordinates. OTC themselves only had a 20 foot container as their
smallest which was $950 to Cartagena plus $100 handling. Perfect if I
had a Winebego. Some other contacts:
Gemini Shipping Co. Tel: 441-6269, 441-6959. They would except open
cargo cars or motorcycle. However they sailed every 1-2
Fast Cargo Inc. Tel: 263-2008, 263-7826, 264-5792, 441-7037, Fax: 269-8447,
They handle arrangements by air or boat.
There are quite a few small boats that cross from Panama to Colombia,
and will take a open cargo such as a motorcycle and their passengers.
This is by far the best way to go if one is interested in gathering
adventure stories to be told afterwards.
Of the three travellers I met who travelled on one of these smaller
One was on a coconut boat where their motorcycle sat in a pile of
coconuts for 3.5 days. When they arrived at night, the canoes came from
shore, and all of the smuggled merchandise such as refrigerators, TVs,
etc were unloaded in the dark from hidden places on the boat. The next
morning when only the coconuts and motorcycle remained, the motorcycle
was off loaded into a canoe for an additional $20. They were put ashore
on a sand beach far from any road. Later when they arrived at customs,
they were told that they had had an illegal entry, and would have to go
back the way they came and come in legally. This being impossible, they
ended up driving the rest of the way through Colombia without proper
documents. Fortunately they were not stopped by a police check. The
total cost for them was $220. It was not a pleasant experience,
however when they tell it, it makes a great story.
A British couple we met had a similar experience for $250. However
their boat was smuggling in arms and ammunition likely for one of the
two Colombian guerrilla factions. Of course, they didn't know this when
We met a swiss motorcycle traveller who booked passage on the boat named
"Alejandra" sailed by captain Eduardo Barrios sailing from Puerto Coco
Solo in Venezuela to Colon, Panama. He paid $200 for the three day
passage of himself and his motorcycle. However, he slept on the floor
in a cramp area shared by others, and managed to lose all of his riding
gear during the voyage.
While arrival by land in Colombia is straight forward and easy. Arrival
by boat or air involves a lot of paperwork. 2-5 days by air or boat
has been my personal experience and experience from talking with other
travellers. Our paper work began on a Thursday night, and we were done
by Tuesday morning. No work was done Saturday afternoon or Sunday.
However, we had two problems arise that lengthened our paperwork by
about a day and a half. One was that the vehicle identification number
on one of our bikes is a sticker that is no longer legible. Due to some
quick thinking and trickery by our hired custom agent we were able to
get this by the customs officer. The other problem we had was that in
Panama, the customs officer had written the same air bill number for one
of our motorcycles into both of our passports. This discrepancy took a
lot of foot and paper work to remedy in Colombia. The customs officers
in Bogota are very strict, officious and by the book. They are
reluctant to take responsibility for saying that any discrepancy is o.k.
A bribe at this custom office will likely get one thrown in jail, so I
have been warned, and such is the general feel of the clerks.
Solutions to problems we encountered: I went to an engraver, and had a
little aluminum plate with the vehicle identification numbers engraved
on it which I then epoxied to the frame. This number identically
matched that of my paperwork, and replaced the factory sticker that was
now no longer legible.
Regarding the incorrect air bill number in my passport. Fixing this
personally with a pen, I was warned would get me thrown in jail.
Colombian officials said, "no problem, just go back to Panama and get it
fixed". With two notes from the shippers, and approval from the top
customs officer, the clerks were able to overlook this discrepancy.
It is necessary to hire a custom agent. The custom agent works for you,
not the government, and is hired to get you through Colombian customs.
They do the leg work, and type of the 80+ question form. A typical fee
might be $80 per motorcycle to possibly $75 per day, and is well worth
it. We heard of two Israelis who didn't hire an agent, and it took them
2.5 weeks of agony to get their vehicles through customs.
Finding a custom agent may not be easy. Customs officers who work for
the government are not allowed to help you locate a customs agent since
this would be potentially considered favoritism, and possibly a loss of
their job. We were secretly directed to Cesar, a customs agent who
hangs out in the cargo warehouse. He has been doing this paper work for
15 years. He's short, overweight, and wears street clothes and can
likely be found by asking around the cargo warehouses just outside the
Bogota airport entrance. He has a crew of four others that can get a
motorcycle through in a little over a day.
With all of your paperwork in order, and lots of patience, Colombian
customs is only a little inconvenient :-)
Net-Tamer V 1.09 Palm Top - Registered
June 15, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 27: Uvita, Costa Rica - Antón, Panama
Above: Finally, Panama at last. This is a self-portrait of me rolling down the PanAmerican Highway after finally crossing into Panama. :)
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Rivera in Antón, Panama. Antón is a town in the Coclé province of Panama, located near the north-western shore of the Gulf of Panama.
Saturday June 15, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 5,066
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,395
Miles driven today: 329 miles
Local Currency: US Dollars
1 US Dollar = 1 US Dollar
June 14, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 26: Jacó to Uvita, Costa Rica
Above: The playa at Jaco, Costa Rica.
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the La Posada Hotel in the seaside villa of Uvita, Costa Rica.
Friday June 14, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,976
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 5,066
Miles driven today: 90 miles
Local Currency: Costa Rican Colones
1 US Dollar = 500 Costa Rican Colones
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 25: San Jose to Jacó, Costa Rica
Above: The Pacific Ocean at last. I haven't seen the Pacific Ocean since I left San Francisco on a 2004 Honda XR650L a month ago. This photo was shot on the playa just south of Camaronal, Costa Rica. This bay off of the Pacific Ocean is named the Golfo de Nicayo (Nicayo Gulf).
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the Monte Carlo Hotel in the seaside villa of Jacó, Costa Rica. This is in the county of Garabito, in the Puntarenas province.
Thursday June 13, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,884
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,976
Miles driven today: 92 miles
Local Currency: Costa Rican Colones
1 US Dollar = 500 Costa Rican Colones
June 13, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 24: Cañas to San Jose, Costa Rica
Above: Mural on the side of the PanAmerican Highway in Costa Rica.
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the Best Western Hotel Irazu in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Wednesday June 12, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,755
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,884
Miles driven today: 129 miles
Local Currency: Costa Rican Colones
1 US Dollar = 500 Costa Rican Colones
June 11, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 23: Diriamba, Nicaragua to Cañas, Costa Rica
Above: This is what Nicaragua looks like at 120 mph. Is that a horse or a pig?
Update: I am alive and well resting quietly in the Hotel Kam-Tu in Cañas, Costa Rica.
Tuesday June 11, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,595
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,755
Miles driven today: 160 miles
Local Currency: Costa Rican Colones
1 US Dollar = 500 Costa Rican Colones
June 10, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 22: Choluteca, Honduras to Diriamba, Nicaragua
Update: I am alive and well resting quietly in the Mi Bohio Hotel in Diriamba, Nicaragua.
Monday June 10, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,407
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,595
Miles driven today: 188 miles
Local Currency: Nicaraguan Cordobas
1 US Dollar = 24.47 Nicaraguan Cordobas
June 9, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 21: Monte Verde to Choluteca, Honduras
Above: The grounds of the Honduyate Hotel in Monte Verde, Honduras on Lake Yojoa.
Update: I am alive and well resting quietly in the Hotel Gualiqueme in Choluteca, Honduras.
Sunday June 9, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 4,197
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,407
Miles driven today: 210 miles
Local Currency: Honduran Lempiras
1 US Dollar = 20.23 Honduran Lempira
June 8, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 20: Rio Dulce, Guatemala to Monte Verde, Honduras
Update: I am alive and well resting quietly in the Honduyate Hotel in Monte Verde, Honduras on Lake Yojoa.
Saturday June 8, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,995
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 4,197
Miles driven today: 202 miles
Local Currency: Honduran Lempiras
1 US Dollar = 20.23 Honduran Lempira
I am alive and well resting quietly in the Honduyate Hotel in Monte Verde, Honduras on Lake Yojoa. I have very limited internet access tonight. Probably this is all I have at all. So, maybe I will update again tomorrow. But all is well.
June 7, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 19: San Ignacio, Belize to Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Above: Crossing over a bridge on the "shortcut" to Poptun, Guatemala.
Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Posado Del Rio hotel in the town of Rio Dulce, Guatemala on the shores of Lago De Izabal.
Friday June 7, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,829
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,995
Miles driven today: 166 miles
June 6, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 18: San Pedro to San Ignacio, Belize
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in Belmoral Hotel in the villa of San Ignacio in the country of Belize, on the Great Western Highway, 11 miles east of the Guatemalan border.
Thursday June 6, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,726
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,829
Miles driven today: 103 miles
June 5, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 17: Belize City to San Pedro, Belize
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in Spindrift Hotel in the villa of San Pedro on the island of Ambergis Caye, in the country of Belize.
Wednesday June 5, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,726
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day):
Miles driven today: miles
I"ve been on the road for so long...it's hard for me to remember a time when it wasn't like this.
I'm putting todays diatribe in the extended entry because it's so long, no one with any sense would read it....
June 4, 2013
My buddy doug is on a ride through British Columbia on his bright yellow BMW. I asked him if they didn't make them come in men's colors, but I guess they don't.
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 16: Orange Walk Town to Belize City, Belize
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in The Bachelor Inn in Belize City, Belize.
Tuesday June 4, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,663
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,726
Miles driven today: 63 miles
In the morning, the cleaning woman is trying to break the door down, but I've got the chain on the door, and she's trying her damnedest to get into the room.
"Consado!" I scream at here. "No molestar!"
"Checkout time is at 11:00 a.m.. It's now 11:30. Are you staying with us another night?"
"No. I'll get up."
I really didn't want to get out of bed. I'm not a morning person, in case you haven't gathered that.
So, last night, I tried to get them to take my cameras from me and keep them behind the desk in the unairconditioned lobby. The thought is that the cameras do better if the stay outdoors, in the humid air. Otherwise, if their in the A/C all night, then it takes an hour for all of the condensation in them to balance out when you start riding, which means you miss a lot of shots, obviously.
But they wouldn't take them and keep them in the hotel clerk area for whatever reason, I stuck them in the refrigerator last night. At the time, it seemed like a stroke of genius. It probably would have been had the refrigerator not been plugged in. So, I got up this morning, and they were cold, and I drove for some time without being able to take pictures, which sucks.
Last night, I purchased a map of Belize. I notice now that it's in a waterproof folder. Probably not a good sign.
Construction workers at the hotel are producing a lot of dust and debris. I'm not clear if they're adding on to the hotel or tearing it down. My motorcycle is covered in dust from their efforts.
I drive the bike up and down the street, oiling the chain as I drive. I do this every morning.
I head south out of town, following pretty much the only road through Belize. There's a toll booth, but the guy just waves me past without accepting any money. Now, in Mexico, they never did this. You paid the tolls, a guy with a machine gun kept you from going on the road. But here, there's a toll road, with a toll booth, and the guy just waves me by.
Now, this "toll road", aka The Northern Highway, is probably worse than any road you've ever been on. I'd be generous in calling it a two-lane black-top road. There's no paint on the surface of it. It's made of asphalt. Has no shoulders. And, yet, still, the locals seem to think it's OK for them to pass, side by side, using most, if not all, of my lane, as I'm driving down the toll road. The roads in Mexico were so much nicer. There's just no comparison.
I'm driving through this third world squalor. It really is unimaginable. Like the entire surface of the country needs to be scraped with a bulldozer and replanted with seeds in an ambitious thousand-year-restoration type of scenario.
I can't help but wonder if Guatemala will be worse than Belize. If each country will be worse and worse until finally, they just laugh at me when I run out of gas on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere.
Had a long talk with the people at Verizon when I crossed into Belize. They'd set me up on a plan in Mexico. But now, that plan isn't offered in any of the other countries in Central America. I'm on my own now, and I see why. There is no data network down here. I've got the phone set to "I don't care how much it costs...help me please?" and I get zero. This means my iPhone/GPS that I've used to get through Mexico is now useless. Now, I'm down to paper maps.
Now, Doug and his buddy were making good fun of me not having a GPS. I'd like to point out a few things. 1) The TSA stole all of tools and my Givi case for the bike on the flight from Denver to Chicago. There's no way to plan for that, IMHO.
2)I brought 3 GPS units. 2 failed. One worked in Mexico (iPHone/GPS).
3) I tried to buy a GPS at two different stores when I was in Ciudad Del Carmen. I went to a Wal-mart and a Mega store. Neither one sold GPS units. I was shocked. But, this is where we are. I'm not retarded. It's harder to travel through third world countries than it might seem from the safety of an armchair in in the United States.
Last night, I have plenty of people tell me for sure, "Do not go into Belize City." But this isn't an option for me. The reason is because, when I was in Mexico, I had my buddies at the KTM dealer in Moline, Illinois fed-ex some parts down for me to The Bachelor Inn in Belize City. This was before anyone told me not to go there. So, I have to go there. It's a done deal.
Also, I'm starting to realize, it's just people in the country saying that "the city isn't safe", and I'm sure they're right. There's probably a nice state department advisory about Belize City that would make your hair stand on end, but the truth of the matter is that, it isn't that bad or they would have "60 Minutes" down here trying to find out what the hell is going on.
Also, probably my package won't arrive until Wednesday, so if my progress across the Yucatan seems to have slowed, this was partially due to rain, and partially due to design. There wasn't any real reason for me to get into Belize City any earlier
So, I'm going into the war zone that is Belize City. And, while I'm there, I'll try to buy me a GPS unit for the bike.
As I bounce South across the unpainted, narrow toll-road,I pass through the Crooked Tree Wildlife sanctuary, and I see an eagle, with a prominent white band across his back. Not a bird I'm familiar with. He lands. I try to shoot him, but of course the cameras are so fogged you can't even see through them.
But I'm not upset. I drive on. Life is good.
There aren't a lot of cars on the road, and it's hard to imagine that this is the main road through Belize that leads to Belize City. So, I stop and check my map. It's not much use, since I don't know where I am, but it makes me feel better. Eventually, I decide that, even though I don't know where the road goes, it has to go somewhere, and I came down here for an adventure, so I'll just drive down the road and see where it takes me.
This is the beauty of not having a GPS that people like Doug will never know. It's OK to be lost sometimes. It's OK to let go. If everything was planned out, and if everything went as planned, then it wouldn't be an adventure. It would be a journey. And those two are not the same.
The signs are in English now, but I miss the signs in Spanish. I miss studying the signs and trying to figure out what in Gold's name they're trying to tell me. I miss that dearly.
One sign in Spanish that I always understood was "No Tire Basura". "Basura" in Spanish means trash. And I was like "That's right. Don't be throwing tires out here in the desert, people. What's wrong with you?" Only much, much later did I realize that "tire" in Spanish doesn't mean the same as "tire" in English. The sign means "Don't Throw Trash", not "No 'tire' Trash". I felt so stupid when I realized this. How retarded can one person be?
I see some street vendors on the side of the road. I've learned to slow down when I see them for two reasons. 1) They're ALWAYS located at a speed bump, so you'd best get on the brakes and 2) you probably need to taste what they're selling.
These are the first street vendors I've seen in Belize. I'm so excited. I was afraid I'd lost them.
At the fork of the Northwestern Highway and the Burrell Boom Cut, this woman is selling little pyramids of ripe mangoes for $5.00 Belize. So, I give her $5.00 but only take one mango. She speaks Spanish, which I love, of course. I'd so much rather speak spanish. Lots of people in Belize speak spanish, but I speak to them in spanish, even though we both speak English. English is so boring. As I travel through Central America, I feel like I'm Dr. Livingstone, and when I have to speak English, it just kinda ruins it for me.
Now, as I'm sitting on the side of the road, she hands me a machete, and I crudely peel the mango and eat it on my bike, dripping all over the seat.
Two people that look like Americans walk by and he says "Oh my God! Look. It's a KTM in Belize!"
He's laughing and I'm laughing.
"No one down here has ever seen a KTM," I laugh. "It's like I'm riding a unicorn."
"I've never seen one here either," he offers.
"Dude..where are ya'll from?"
"We're from Alberta, Canada."
"Oh yeah. I've been there. Calgary, Jasper, Banff. Nice place." I offer. "What are y'all doing here?"
"I'm going to medical school," he offers.
"Here? In Belize? Where?"
He points to a crumbling tin-roofed building beneath a Papaya tree.
"Behind the chicken coop?"
"No. That's our building. Just there."
Apparently, the chicken coop is their medical school. Yikes.
"What's it like in Belize City? Is crime bad there?"
"Nah. It's not that bad. She goes down there all the time. She walks around during the day. No one's bothered her," he offers.
"Aha. OK. Thanks,"
"Also, if you keep going south, there's a ferry from Punta Gorda to Puerto Barrios," he offers.
Now I have to admit, I'm a sucker for ferries. I love the idea of putting the motorcycle on a boat and going across the ocean. I took a ferry at Galveston, across Lake Michigan, from Port Angeles to Victoria, and from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert.
I bid the goodbye and continue rolling south.
It's hot today. Sun is high in the sky. I need to put sunscreen on my hands, and on my left leg where my jeans are ripped open. But I don't bother. Instead, I just drive on. In the sun, I'm hot. And in the rain, I'm cool. But I don't think about it that way. In the rain, I'm wet. And in the sun, I'm hot. So, I see the downside of both, instead of seeing the upside of each. I wonder why I do this. I wish it wasn't this way.
I keep driving, and the signs indicate I'm heading towards Belize City, so I am going the right way, after all. Lucky day.
Now, this is where it gets tricky. My cell phone won't work as a GPS because there's no data network, apparently. So now I'm down to paper maps, but I'm pretty well clueless in a new city, obviously. So, I just follow the coast and I'm not clear where I am really. And being lost in Belize City is not something I wanted to experience, quite honestly.
But I see a street vendor selling snow cones and I'm like..."Oh hell yeah." Like, any place that sells snow cones can't be all bad. So, he sets me up with a strawberry and orange snow cone, and some plantain chips. All good, of course.
And I try to ask him where my hotel is, but he's not sure of really anything. And, although he's technically speaking English, the blacks down here don't speak any English that you would be able to understand. I mean, I've been to the Bahamas and to Jamaica. I've heard some pretty tortured English. But this stuff...it's just indecipherable. I'd much rather be speaking Spanish.
So, I give up on trying to talk to the street vendor. I call the hotel, and I ask the woman where to go. But, she's female, so she doesn't understand North or South.
"I'm at the Pricess Casino and Hotel. Do I go North or South?"
"No. It doesn't." I hate trying to explain compass points to women. It's like trying to explain color to a blind person.
Finally, she tells me that she's near the Memorial Hospital and "Joe's College", if you can believe it. So I drive around and ask where Memorial Hospital is. Then I ask where "Joe's College" is. And finally, I see signs for "The Bachelor Inn". Follow them down into the ghettos of Belize City.
Not a nice area. I don't really care. I pull up. There's an oriental woman there. I'm trying to figure out if she has a package for me. She has no clue who I am.
"Did you receive a package for me? I was supposed to have something shipped here?"
"Why you get package here? No package here for you. I don't know who you are."
"I called last week. On Friday. I spoke to a man here. Told him I was having a package shipped here. He said it would be OK."
"No man work here. Who you talk to. You go to Post Office for package. Why you ship here. Who you are?"
So, it's not going well. She's from Taiwan. Her English isn't great. And she's lying to me, which isn't helping.
"Look. I'm driving to Panama. I needed to have a package shipped to me en-route. I chose this hotel as a good place to ship to. I called, and a man told me it would be ok to ship here."
"No man work here. Who you talk to?"
"I talked to someone here at this number on Friday."
"Why you no ship U.S. Embassy?"
"Because their phone number is disconnected."
Finally, she calls her son, and her son comes walking up. Michael. He admits he spoke with me on Friday. There's some question on whether he consented to allow a package to be shipped here. But at least now, she calms down.
"You lied to me," I tell her. "I told you I spoke to a man and you lied and said no man worked here. I'm driving across Central America on a motorcycle. I needed an address to ship to. I chose this place."
"You want room for tonight? We give you special rate. Eighty dollars."
The Belize dollars are 2:1 to U.S. Dollars. It's like everything in the country is a half-off sale.
"Internet in the room? Air conditioning? Hot water for shower?" I clarify. You learn to ask these things.
"Yes, but right now, the power is out, because when it rains, the power goes out. So, when power comes back on, then all these things."
Like, great. Just what I wanted. But, as I'm checking in, the power comes back on.
Her son Michael leads me up to the third floor. It's actually a large sweet, with a separate living room, kitchen, and bedroom. Only the bedroom has an A/C unit, but the room has internet and it works reasonably well. I set the A/C to stun, climb in bed and fall asleep. I think I've driven a total of about 60 miles today.
As I see it, I can't really go anywhere until my package arrives.
U.S. State Department Advisory on Belize in Extended Entry:
This, from George:
Read the daily blog (as I do every morning). Interesting. The response(s) from Doug and his friend I do agree with....sort of. Being a minor student in psychology there may lie some truth with his berating of your trip Rob. No matter though, it's your life....go live it. I actually enjoy reading about your adventure. I will say this though, your friend is spot on about a couple of points.
1. how is it you didn't think about the filters, gps, other essential items before embarking?? You are a smart guy....so score one for Darwin.
2. you've been to mexico before, travelled out of country before. WTF were you thinking by NOT getting your passport stamped, no insurance, etc etc. These kind of things are IMPORTANT....! Maybe next time make a check-list??
Ok so the rant is over. I only say those things because I want you to succeed in your journey and not end up a footnote to history as dying in a jail because of your stupidity.
Be careful going through Belize. Try and obey the rules Kiser. You are not is the good ol USA where the worst that could happen is a cot and 3 squares a day. Plus I don't want to have to pull 'the troops' together and come down to get you! LOL
Rob Kiser response:
1) I had three GPS units when I came down. Two of them failed to function properly on the road. I'm a using my 3rd one (the 2nd backup), an iPhone 4s as my GPS.
I've always bought my oil filters on the road at Honda shops. It did not occur to me that KTM shops would be hard to locate in Central America. Honda shops are fairly common down here. KTM, not so much. Was not aware of this issue, as I'd never owned a KTM before. So, yeah, I guess I missed that trick. But I am having oil filters fed-exed to me in Belize, so this was always part of the plan. Worst case scenario, fed-ex whatever I need down from the USA. I'd say it's a fine plan, in my defense.
2)it's true that I didn't get my passport stamped when I came into the country of Mexico. But, it's also true that they don't expect for you to. They just wave you through at the barrel of a machine gun. Plus, I'm in Matamoros, one of the most dangerous cities on earth. And a guy is pointing a machine gun at you saying, get moving. My spanish is rusty. So I move on. I also knew that, no matter what happened, it wouldn't really matter. Like, OK. I'm missing a stamp. So sue me. It worked out about like I figured.
Also, so far as speeding, and not getting insurance, this is all part of the adventure. If I wanted to obey the law, I wouldn't have come down here.
Finally, as a footnote in defense of my current situation, I wasn't 100% sure I was coming down here. I was engaged to be married 8 days ago, and looking at wedding rings with my fiance. She snapped, and it was time to hit the road.
They say the generals are always ready to fight the last war. I was ready to run an enduro-adventure similar to the last ones I ran. It has turned out to be somewhat different with the KTM vs. the Honda.
They also so say "You don't go to war with the army you wish you had. You go to war with the army you have." So, for all you ivy-league monday morning quarterbacks out there, what I did was to get my passport and get out of the country on my adventure. I did some planning, not a lot, but some. And to me, that's part of the adventure. Part of the fun of it has always been getting lost in a third world country. If I didn't want some excitement in my life, I wouldn't be down here.
I could have done the whole trip from my home in Colorado using Google Earth and never even gotten wet. That wasn't the point of the trip.
An email from my friend Doug:
So, Sparky - A couple of comments on your current life and death, fraught with angst and tribulation saga:
On the subject of getting lost all the time: you've ridden a motorcycle before, have you not? And you've noticed that when you go to a new place, you don't know where anything is, right? And you've clearly heard of GPS navigation devices, right? Further, you apparently worked hard all year and made enough bucks to buy a nice new KTM. And you knew you were going to Panama. Don't you think you could have sprung ~$40 for a handlebar bracket, and ~$119 for a decent GPS? I mean *before* crossing the border? (Helpful hit: Amazon.com ships overnight for an extra ten bucks).
Speaking of crossing the border, why the fuck did you bother waiting back home for your passport if you were not going to get it stamped when entering Mexico? Oh, wait, wait: I think I know: you didn't get it stamped in order to be able share all that angst about being in the country illegally. I think I get it.
One more: oil filters. Bikes need oil changes. Oil changes require filters. I suspect you know that. Why the fuck didn't you pack a couple? They're small. Oh, wait, I think I'm beginning to get this one as well: it's all about sharing those buckets of "I can't find KTM 990 oil filters here in Mexico" angst.
We get it: angst. The story is all about angst.
And as I indicated, I shared your peeniewallie blog on my Facebook page and with another rider friend of mine. Here's what he had to say:
"The guy in Mexico actually wants to die I think. But its a hard decision. So he has this gonzo adventure literature fantasy, that the fucked up world gives him permission to kill himself as an artiste verite if he would just create that story of stories but it's really just that he has to explain it to some abstraction of "everybody" to work out the justification in his own brain. Because he can't admit to himself what he is thinking. "Maybe you'll all agree, maybe you will realize how fucked up you are too, being his oppressors and all. " Rather than, "Read my long self deceiving, self serving suicide note/ gonzo literary contribution. Fear and loathing in Yucatan. That will teach her, I'll literature her into nonexistence, the opposite of objectification of a women. I will abstractify her into a little toxic puff of prosaic fish stink breath from the smile of the Cheshire Cat. I'll just put it out there and the world will hate her unless they are stupid. oh, but since they are stupid I don't care. I am art. Darned speed limits, passports, money, other peoples desires, other peoples failed responsibilities. The world doesn't deserve me, those rules don't apply to me, people are stupid, vain, selfish, unfair, to not see how smart, gifted and deserving I am, etc." As he says, "Lord God", but then I say he is full of crap. He wants to die and can't say it. Can't think it straight up. All those words he is spewing could be replaced with only four words, starting with, "I want.."
But anyway he is at least going to hurt himself if he doesn't get some altitude fairly soon. Hopefully nobody else will pay the fare for the trip to hell along with him. Gosh. Por lo menos, adjust the f*****g chain. Or get a BMW. In the end the original gonzoid Hunter Thompson gave up on the drugs, lunatic adventures, wasted relationships and the sausage creature and sadly shot himself. It was a long path to that, the entire written record he created is *his* note to the world and himself, but its the same path as the one your friend is on here."
My reply to Doug:
Loved the screed. Thanks for sharing. A few things...
1) Did you change your phone number? I tried messaging you and it wasn't you.
2) GPS - Agreed. I need one. No question there.
3) Oil Filters. Agreed. Having them FedExed to Belize.
4) Passport - I didn't know if Mexico would require it or not. I was sure the other countries might want to see it. Mexico didn't ask to see it. They waved me through. They're waving FAL's and AR-15's. It's very intimidating. They told me to keep going. I kept going.
As for your friends comments, they're interesting. But I don't have a death wish. Not a true one, or I wouldn't be alive. I am an adrenaline junkie. I am having a hard time with the breakup with the love of my life. But I'm not going to die. I will make it home from this trip, safe and sound. I like to share my adventures with others, as many people wish they could live this way, but can't due to money, wife, job, etc. I have a short time to try to make this the adventure of a lifetime, and I'm going to do it. I'm not turning back. It's not an easy trip. I'm fine if he doesn't like my little adventure, he doesn't have to read about it. It's no skin off of my ass. I'm not doing it for him. I'm doing it for me. :)
You, of all people, should be down here with me. Where are you, brother?
June 3, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 15: Tulum, Mexico to Orange Walk Town, Belize
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in D' Victoria Hotel in Orange Walk Town, Belize.
Monday June 3, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,451
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,663
Miles driven today: 212 miles
I wake up in the morning. My alarm clock goes off at something insane like 6:00 a.m. Someone told me I should shoot the sunrise. But it's raining and I'm like...yeah...that's not going to happen.
I turn it off and go back to sleep.
I wake up in Tulum, and it's still raining. It rained all night. Still raining now. No sign of letting up. I want to hang myself. Rain is among the many things that can ruin an otherwise beautiful motorcycle trip. I lay in bed, and read the book "A White House" by Thomas Jefferson Young. I brought it along with me on the trip, in case I ever found myself off the grid. I'm fairly close to that now. No internet service in my room. No cell coverage. I have to go into the atrium at Las Ranitas Hotel to get internet access.
So, eventually, I wander to the main atrium in a light rain. The hotel is stunning. You couldn't design a better hotel. It wouldn't be possible. There are no words. I am the only one here at the hotel. I'm fine with this. It suits me. I like my time alone. I'm comfortable being with myself. I've been alone for a long time. But I am good with this.
I sit and surf the internet and drink a CocaCola Light.
I need to get on my bike and start riding, or else I'll never make it to Panama. Somehow, I've got to find the courage to get on the bike in a light rain and start driving again It's so hard to move on. To leave this place. Tulum is decadent. It's the only place I ever saw anyone hitchhiking in Mexico. It's the only place I ever saw a single american/european tourist. It's the closest thing to civilization I've seen since I crossed into Mexico so long ago.
I have to get to Belize somehow. I've got to get out of this place. Been in Mexico for too long. I shouldn't have even come to the Yucatan. I could have easily crossed down to the Pacific and shortcut the Yucatan and now I'm wondering why I didn't do exactly that.
"You are staying for another night, sir?" the hotel clerk wants to know
"No. No. Gracias, amigo. Salida para Belize in diaz minutos."
"But sir, you don't have to run off. You should stay here, where it's dry."
"No. Gracias, amigo."
I'm so close to Belize though. I'm sure I could make it if I try. The rain lets up a bit, and I decide to make a run for the border. Toss all my things into my little C.C. Filson hand bag, and I'm rolling down Mexico 180 in a light rain down the Yucatan peninsula, in the state of Quintana Roo (Keen-TAHN-a Roo).
The road is fairly good and I drive for about 50 miles in a light rain, going between 90 and 100 mph. For clarification, there aren't a lot of other cars on the road. You only pass someone else every few minutes. So, it's not like I'm driving this fast in rush hour, or anything. The place is deserted.
I set my iPhone/GPS to take me to Chetumal, the last town in Mexico, because it won't let me put in a destination in Mexico, because that's international travel, and can't be accomplished, according to Google Maps.
But a friend I met at the Pemex station tells me to be sure to exit at Santa Elena, before I get to Chetumal, to get into Belize.
So, I'm rolling south, looking for my exit to Belize. Still in a light rain.
Now, instead of painting the skies with dark ominous clouds, my eyes are painting breaks in the clouds. Slowly, light comes into the clouds. The sky lightens. And I drive out of the rain.
Now, driving out of a rainstorm after driving in one for 60 miles is a miraculous thing. My cameras start to dry out. My jacket starts to dry slightly. I'm excited to get out of Mexico. To finally be moving on to the next country. I have to start putting up bigger miles if I'm ever going to make it to Panama. Panama seems so far away.
At some point, I see some vendors selling snacks on the side of the road. I stop and buy some salted, dried pumpkin seeds for 5 pesos. I get them to let me try a jar of something that looks like olives. But whatever it was has pits and was soaked in habanero juice.
"Muy picante," I choked. They all laughed, and I drove away still eating my pumpkin seeds, which were delicious.
I reach the exit for Belize, and take the exit. But then, the road forks, and I can't figure out which way to go. My GPS is programmed to take me to a city I'm not going to in Mexico, so it's no help. I have to use google translate to figure out which fork to take. And now, I'm rolling up to the border between Mexico and Belize, which is a river, as it turns out. (I believe it's called the Hondo River.)
Now, normally, I just roll through all of this stuff, and it's no problem. But now, the guy points at me, blows his whistle, and motions for me to pull over, which I do. Now, keep in mind, this is a well defended border crossing. There are soldier everywhere waving FAL rifles. This is not the border between Alaska and Canada. This is a well defended border crossing.
So, when he waves me over, I pull over, and now I start getting nervous. I figured they'd just wave me through, the same as they waved me in back in Matamoros. But no. Now, they tell me to stop, and I"m very confused about what's going on. I'm probably technically not supposed to be out of the country. I have a court date in Colorado on June 28th. And now, I've got the attention of the border patrol in Mexico, and I know damned good and well that there's nothing in my passport to indicate I'm in the country. Nor do I have any insurance. Or any of that nonsense.
I complain pretty loudly to everyone within earshot in broken Spanish that I don't understand what's going on, and what they want me to do. I'm technically in that no-man's land between Mexico and Belize, I think. Finally, a guy comes over, and I park my bike. He walks me back across the border into Mexico, and now I'm going to try to exit Mexico again. He walks me up to a window of a little shack. A man inside talks for some time into a cell phone. My escort hands the man my passport, and then disappears.
Now, I know I'm screwed. I'm on their radar now in a big way. He's talking on the phone, and I can see my passport there inside the window. In my mind's eye, I reach inside, grab the passport, run across the border, hop on the KTM and ride a wheelie across the bridge into Belize. But, then I think about all the military with their FAL rifles that they're just aching to shoot. They'd fill me full of holes before I went 10 feet. I resign myself to deal with this governmental bureaucrat.
I hate border patrol. Like...don't get me wrong. I hate the police. I detest any type of authority. Always have. But, no matter how you measure it, the border patrol agents are always the worst. They're the most horrific jackasses on the planet. They are royal jackasses, and they've proven it to me time and again all over the planet. If you like to fuck with people, you're going to LOVE being a border patrol agent. You can ruin people's lives. You can keep them from going home. All for your enjoyment.
So, finally, the guy gets off the phone...starts thumbing through my passport.
"Why isn't your passport stamped?"
"Because, when I entered the country at Matamoros, they just waived me through. You know how it is. I asked them if I needed to get it stamped, but they just waved me through. They were holding machine guns. I didn't want to argue with them."
"This is a very big problem. You realize that you are in the country illegally? You are breaking the law. This is a big problem."
At this point, he hands me my passport back.
"Well, maybe I'll just try to get into Belize and see what they say," I offer, glad to have my passport back in my hands.
"I'm afraid that I cannot let you go. You are breaking the law. You see. This is a big problem. Belize will not let you in without an Exit Stamp from Mexico."
"Do you have the title to your bike?" he continues.
"Ah...yeah...I think so."
I root through my soaking wet suitcase. In it, wilted maps of Texas and Mexico.. Rotting clothes. A soggy copy of "A White House". A wet owner's manual for a 2010 KTM 990 Adventure. I root through an envelope and produce some documents. It's all that they gave me when I bought the bike. I'm not clear if anything in there would rise to the definition of a "title" or not. I just hand him all of this paperwork. The license plate is for a one-week long-ago-expired temporary tag issued by the State of Illinois. Needless to say, I don't have insurance on the bike. Not in the U.S. Not in Mexico. Not anywhere.
He looks at the paperwork very closely.
Slowly, it dawns on me how stupid I've been. Why is it that I felt like this trip was a good idea? This is why people don't travel. Because the goal of every government official along the way is to skull-fuck you. To royally screw you over at every conceivable opportunity. I'm pissed at myself for not demanding that they stamp my passport. The same thing happened when I drove into Tijuana. You'd think I'd learn, but no.
I imagine myself in a Mexican prison like something out of Midnight Express. Only I've got not one to come shove their breasts up against the glass for me. This is going to be a bad day.
"Possibly, I could give you an exit stamp. But there will be a fee for entering the country illegally, and staying over a week."
My ears perk up at the sound of "processing fee." Like...if you need a bribe...I'm all in.
"How much is the processing fee?"
"It would be forty dollars."
"Forty U.S. Dollars?" I choke.
Like, trust me, I've got a lot of problems. But money isn't one of them. I reach into my wallet and hand him two twenties.
"I will give you only an Exit Stamp, but this is all you will need to get into Belize."
And I'm like "Thank you very much for helping me."
Forty dollars? Whoohooo! That's like my Monday night bar tab!
So now, I walk back across the border. They whistle at me a few times, like a rancher herding sheep, to get me to walk down the right chute. But I walk cross the border back into no-man's land, in between Belize and Mexico, holding my passport above my head lest the army start firing at me with their FAL's.
Hop on the bike, and now roll across the river that forms the border between Mexico and Belize.
Now, I'm on the Belize side of the river, but I'm not sure where to go. There's a large casino. The post-apocalyptic ruins of what must have been a city at some point. I really don't know where to go though, so I stop and as someone for directions. And they tell me the border crossing is around the next bend.
Now, I follow the road around the bend, and now I see the border crossing into Belize. There's a bunch of signs that clearly say I'll have to go inside the building to clear immigration and customs, but I just ignore them and drive up to the border like I own the place. When it's my turn to pull forward, the guy starts interrogating me.
"Have you had your motorcycle fumigated?" he asks.
"Has your bike been fumigated?" he repeats.
"I don't even know what that means," I reply. Like, I was thinking I'd like being in an English speaking country again, but now, they're so crazy I can't understand them at all, and part of me wishes I were back in Mexico where I wouldn't even understand them and I could just say "No comprendo."
But instead, I've got this guy here asking me if my bike has been fumigated and God as my witness I have no idea what he's talking about.
"Have you been inside yet," he asks.
I knew this was coming.
"Uh...no...not really...I stammer."
Turn around. Go inside. Clear Immigration and Customs. Then go back and get your bike fumigated at the green and white building.
So, I do a U-turn, park my bike, and go inside the building that the signs were very clear I'd have to go into in order to get into Belize. The signs I ignored because that's just how I roll.
Now, I'm in the building, and first I have to go through Immigration, of course. I show the guy my Exit Stamp from Mexico that cost me $40.
"Where are you traveling to?" he asks. I've learned to say "Panama", as this is my final destination. And they always try to trick you into changing your story. If you start by saying "I'm going to Panama," then you're much better off. They understand you're just passing through, and they leave it alone. Otherwise, they want to know what you're going to be doing in their country.
"I'm driving to Panama," I offer.
"Do you have insurance for Belize?" he asks.
"Oh yeah. Sure. I've got that," I lie.
"You're going to Guatemala?" he asks.
I assume he's trying to trick me into changing my story. I'm not falling for that one.
"No. I'm going to Panama," I repeat.
"But when you leave Belize, you will go into Guatemala," he explains.
"Yes. And after that, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama," I reply. Like...I know my geography. And you're not going to trick me into changing my story. These people love to rake you over the coals if you change your story. That's a bad thing.
Eventually, he stamps my passport with a "Transit" stamp, meaning I'm just in-transit through Belize, which is fine with me.
I have nothing to declare in customs, so they let me walk through, and when you exit the building you're in Belize. Now, I have to walk back into no-man's land to get on my bike. As I walk back across the border, I ask the guy..."Now...where is it I have to go to get my bike fumigated?"
At the green and white building. It's about a hundred yards back.
So, now I climb on my bike in no-man's land, between Belize and Mexico, and drive back to the little green and white building. There are 2 or 3 other vehicles there. But I'm still not sure what they're going to do. It doesn't seem to make sense that they would want to fumigate my bike. I'm having a hard time getting at what they want to do to my bike. And they're speaking English, mind you.
Walk into the little green-white office, and he's wrapping up with guy ahead of me.
Finally, it's my turn and now he wants to know what my license plate number is.
"I have no idea. Hang on," and I walk outside and take a photo of my license plate. Surprisingly, it matches what was on the paperwork they handed me from the KTM store back in Moline, Illinois.
I bring the camera back inside, and show the guy my license plate number.
I'm starting to think now that they're going to "smog" my motorcycle, meaning to check the emissions. They do that in Colorado and California, as well as many other states I'm sure. That must be what they mean by "fumigate".
He tells me how much I owe him, and I'm like...."In what?" I mean...I have no idea what the local currency is. No clue. I've been all dialed into pesos for so long...now that I'm in another country, I have no clue what the currency is any more. I have some pesos left, so I hand him 40 pesos and that's enough, apparently.
"You are all good now. As good as new," he explains. But I'm not sure what he means by this. I'm not clear that anything's been done to my bike at all. Maybe it's all just a scam to collect revenue, and they didn't do anything to my bike. I'm not sure. I walk outside, and my bike is there. But now, I want to know if they did anything, so I go back inside and ask him.
"Did they do anything to my bike?" I ask him.
"Yes. They spray the wheels with this pesticide. To keep pests from coming in from Mexico. When you come back, they will spray your wheels when you go back into Mexico."
So, finally I understand what they're doing. They have a little hand-sprayer and the guy sprayed some DDT on my wheels. I'm not clear what, if anything, this accomplishes, but they did do something, at least.
So, the guy hands me a little slip of paper, and now I rush proudly back to my border patrol agent. I present him with my stamped passport, and my fumigation paperwork.
He's all smiles, and waves me on through.
I'm still not sure what the local currency is. I mean, I'm sure that I'm not the person to write a travel guide, or anything, but it seems to be working for me, albeit in a somewhat haphazard manner.
Now, I'm rolling through Belize and, I'm truly shocked. Like...Belize is the answer to the questions "What could possibly be worse than Mexico?"
Belize is so poor there just aren't words. Burned out cars parked in fields. Rusting tin roof houses collapsing all over the countryside. This must be what Mississippi looked like back in the '30's, before the New Deal. Before the war. Before the WPA and the NRA.
I didn't think it would be possible for a country to have more stray mongrels than Mexico. I was wrong. Belize has twice as many stray dogs. Even the land is managed poorly. In Mexico, the countryside was plowed, planted, and harvested.
In Belize, the land is disheveled, burned, scarred, and unattended. It's hard to imagine how poor these people are. Words can't do it justice.
I stop at a small convenience store in the first town I come into. It looks like Hiroshima in September of '45. I talk to some locals, and they warn me not to go through Belize City.
"There's young blacks there. It isn't safe.," they explain. "You should go through Belmopan instead," they offer. "It's very dangerous in Belize City. Here, you have no problem. But that city is very dangerous."
This is the advice you want to hear. These people ought to know. So, I'm like..."Aha...skip Belize City. Got it. Thanks."
"Why does it rain so much here? Is it the rainy season?" I ask. Like, anyone with a brain would have checked this before they drove down on a dirt bike. Not yours truly.
"Yes. The rainy season has just started."
So, I roll south for a bit, and it's getting late in the day. I decide to stop at Orange Walk Town for the night. Not on the coast, but it's time to stop. Getting close to dark, and the next big town is Belize City, which I was told to avoid. Plus, if I detour and go to Belmopan, then that's even further still.
I'll spend the night here in this Orange Walk Town place. Ask some guy at a gas station where to stay in a hotel with internet service. He directs me to the D' Victorian Hotel across town. I pull in, and get a room for the night.
Now, looking for a place to eat dinner. Haven't eaten all day. Ask the lady at the hotel where to eat.
"Mostly, Chinese places here, of course. Try Hong Kong or Rosie's," she suggests.
I ignore that absurd assertion that most of the restaurants in Orange Walk Town, Belize are "mostly Chinese." It's just been such a bizarre day that stuff like this doesn't faze me at this point.
I go driving around without a helmet because, this is what I do at night. I check into a hotel, then ride around town without a helmet. In Mexico, anything goes, and this is not an issue.
Walk into Hong Kong restaurant, and it's just sweltering. No A/C. No internet. No dice. I'm not eating here. Not a chance.
Go driving down further, looking for another place, and Some little Boy Scout looking fellow with a purse blows a whistle and pulls me over as I'm riding by. I stop, and he tells me there's a helmet law.
"Oh really? I didn't know. There's not a helmet law in Mexico."
"Yes there is," he counters.
"Oh. Maybe. I dunno. It's not enforced then."
"Can I see your driver's license?"
So, I hand him my driver's license. I don't have insurance. No helmet. But at least, this time, I'm in the country legally. So I have that going for me.
He just hands me the license back and tells me to go find a helmet and start wearing it. I immediately return to the hotel and get my helmet. Go back and eat at Rosie's, a Chinese restaurant, with no internet, but at least it has air conditioning.
Now, a guy comes in off the street wearing a guitar over his back. Tells us he's from Peru or something, and starts playing his acoustic guitar in the restaurant. In the corner, a television shows women wrestling in a ring in what looks like bathing suits.
I eat a bowl of shrimp fried rice with a CocaCola Light, and get ready to leave. The guy comes around wants a tip. I tell him I can't help him and go home for a shower, do my laundry, and climb in bed.
The things I notice about Belize that are different than Mexico is that, I don't see any street vendors any more like I did in Mexico. I miss them. Also, no Pemex stations, but they do still do the Red = Premium, Green = Regular coloration scheme for the gas pumps. There's more dogs here, if you can believe it. The signs are in English, which is nice. They have a different currency. The Belize dollar is worth exactly 1/2 of a U.S. Dollar.
But they'll take pretty much any currency you offer. They'll take U.S. Dollars, pesos, Belizean dollars. They don't care. They're desperate. They'll take anything. But they always give you change in Belizean dollars. They money is essentially worthless. It folds up like tissue paper. It's a joke.
June 2, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 14: Pisté to Tulum, Mexico
Above: View of the Caribbean Sea from the open-air lobby of the Las Ranitas Hotel in Tulum, Mexico.
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in Las Ranitas Hotel on the shores of the Caribbean Sea in the Mexican State of Quintana Roo, on the Yucutan Peninsula in the town of Tulum, Mexico.
Update 2: I cannot post pictures at this point, as I cannot connect to my RDP server at my house in Colorado. If someone could reboot the PC by the window, that would be awesome.
Sunday June 2, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,339
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,451
Miles driven today: 112 miles
I wake up in the morning. My alarm clock goes off at something insane like 7:30. I'm like...yeah...that's not going to happen.
I turn it off and go back to sleep. But, Chichen Itza opens at 8:00 a.m. I'm there by 9:00 a.m., I think.
Not many people there. The vendors are setting up shop. Like, it appears to be completely unregulated commerce. Now, I don't know. It may be very well organized. I didn't see any fighting for positions, but they're setting up all the trinkets they sell to the tourists. They peddle their bikes from Piste to here, to peddle their wares. They're selling everything imaginable, of course.
The thing I'd never seen before, was some sort of a jaguar call. With it, they can pretty much make a sound like a jaguar. It definitely gets your attention.
So, I'm just wandering through the brutal morning heat of the Yucatan peninsula. Sweltering. Fading fast. A couple of people offer to be my guides. First for $60 USD. Then for $40 USD. I just laugh at them. Like...uh....yeah...no....Not even.
So, instead, I just wander around the place. I mean, there's some cool pyramids and stuff. But nothing I haven't seen before, really. I mean, I've been to Teohuitican near Mexico City, and Jen and I were at Tulum in March. So, I mean...yeah...OK....ruins...pyramids...got it. Thanks. I did want to see the jaguar monument, but I didn't see it, so I decided to forget it.
Now, I'm trying to leave the place, but it's so freaking huge I can't ever figure out where to go. Finally, I find the exit and I'm trying to leave but they're selling all these trinkets. Finally, I decide to break down an buy a new T-shirt that says "Chichen Itza", because my clothes are just literally rotting off of me. Like, every day, I drive all day, and get home soaking wet. Wash out my clothes. Hang them up to dry.
But my T-shirt has turned black, from my leather jacket bleeding onto it constantly. My jeans ripped in the left knee, so I got sunburned on my knee. So now, I have to wear sunscreen on my left knee because my clothes are falling apart. So, I decide to spring for a T-shirt, but I'm so cheap. Just so cheap. The guy says he wants $10 USD for it and I'm just laughing. Like...that's not going to happen. Finally, I give him a $100 Mexican peso note, and I'm like...this is all I'm giving you. $8.00 USD. No more. So, I have a shirt now, at least.
Back to the hotel to check out. I see my friend Alex. He tells me to be sure to hit Punta Allen. And I ask him how the roads are. He says they're fine. So, good enough.
I also ask him about he Jaguar statue, and apparently, to reduce vandalism, they sealed it inside one of the pyramids. So, it's not on public display, apparently.
I check out, load up the bike. and start to roll out of town. Then, I notice that I'm so low on gas that my gas light is on, and there's no Pemex. Turn around, head back into town, find the only Pemex in town, and gas up.
I'm not clear why it is in Mexico that people feel obligated to put bull-horns on their cars. But there's these cars driving around town, broadcasting some propaganda through bull-horns mounted on their vehicles. LIke, they must really hate Detroit for never making the windshield-mounted bull-horn as a factory option.
I'm never sure what's going on down here. LIke...I see people waving flags, and demonstrating. But I don't get the message. I'm not clear if it's like a demonstration, a protest, or a full-blow revolution. It's hard to know. Basically, I just ignore them.
Occasionally, I see people standing in the streets holding hard hats upside down at the speed bumps. So, one assumes they're collecting money for something. But I'm not clear what it's for, so I don't give them anything. I'm reasonably sure it's some leftist cause. There's little doubt about that, of course.
I roll out of Piste on Mexico 180 towards Tulum.
This road doesn't have a divided median, so I'm not driving as fast. I'm going about 90 or so. As I drive, my eyes scour the clouds above. Some are dark. Some not as dark. I have a feeling I'm going to get wet. My guess is that this must be the rainy season. If I had any sense, I'd have looked it up, but I didn't do anything of the sort, of course. This trip was planned about as well as all of my other trips, which is to say I didn't plan it at all. The plan has always been 1) get on bike and 2) drive to panama. So, yeah. Probably I deserve this for being so careless.
So, it starts to rain, but not as hard as yesterday. It's not like a monsoon type of rain. Just a light rain, and I'm like...."Oh hell no. I'm not stopping. I'm going to Punta Allen."
So, I drive in the rain for something crazy like 50 or 80 miles. Finally, I get to Tulum and start down the road to Punta Allen, and it's a nightmare. Just a washed out dirt road full of trillions of potholes you could lose a Subaru in. And it's raining. And now I'm pissed. Because Alex assured me the road was fine. But, I promise you you couldn't go 20 mph on this road if it was dry. And it's raining. I go to turn around and, for the first time on the trip, I drop the bike while I'm on it. The turning radius on this bike is greater than on the XL, so I tend to try to turn around in spaces where it isn't possible. A car approaches. Stops. This is the Mexico that everyone warns you about. Where he hops out, sticks a shiv in my back, and takes my wallet. That doesn't happen.
Instead, The guy get out of his car, and helps me stand up the bike in the rain.
The people down here are not criminals. They're honest, hardworking, decent human beings. I feel bad that they're slandered so in the state department advisories.
So, this dirt road goes something insane like 50 km down the peninsula, and then dead-ends, and you have to come back. Umm....I think I'll pass.
So, I turn around, and start looking for a hotel that has internet. First one I come to, I roll in and ask the guy how much for a room for the night. He says something insane like $200 USD a night. And I'm just laughing at him. He says to make him an offer. I say $80 USD. He says $125. I'm like....not a chance....$90.00.
FInally, he decides he can live with $100.00.
Now, I should mention that this place is on the Caribbean, with a huge thatch roof central atrium, overlooking palm trees, the beach, the sea. It's nice. It's insanely nice. No one else is here. There's maybe 3 cars in the parking lot.
Yeah. Forget going off the grid. I think I found my place for the night. :)
The Ranitas Hotel
At the Las Ranitas hotel, the lights sway to the gentle Caribbean winds. The entire lobby is open air.
From flowered Yucatan gardens, you pass through the open air lobby, to the restaurant/bar, and open thatched roof atrium.
The waves crash onto the shore 20 yards away. At night, tree-frogs chirp in the darkness.
Light dance music plays in the background.
Small brown people walk around in white uniforms. I want a Coca-Cola Light, but I refuse to walk to the bar, 20 feet away.
This place grows on you. Once you get used to being waited on hand and foot, it's very hard to go back, it seems.
No one is paying attention to me. Am I going to have to stand up? Is this what the world has come to?
"Amigo!" I call to the bartender. But he doesn't hear me.
"AMIGO!" I shout, a little louder so that he hears me and walks over. I'm barefoot. Wearing only a swimsuit and a shirt.
I have my feet on the coffee table in front of me like I own the place.
"Necessito una Coca-Cola Light, por favor," I scold him. Like..."Uh...hello? Why weren't you asking me if I needed anything? It's your job. Hello?"
And this is how it is now. Normally, I'm not this way, but it's such an easy habit to fall into.
I'm afraid that I'm weak and bourgeois. It's funny to think that I wanted to go off the grid. I can't get internet access in my room, and I'm in a full-scale panic.
The winds die down, and the mosquitos come and carry me back to my room.
The rains pick up again, and I wonder if there is a sun in the Yucatan.
The little girl at the front desk is named Roxana. She is excited about my trip. About my motorcycle. Runs into the parking lot to check it out and comes back with glowing eyes. She wants to go with me. Anywhere. Aware but here. I tell her I'm going to Belize tomorrow. But she doesn't have a passport, so she can't come with me. And I'm not clear how much fun it would be to have another person riding with me anyway.
At night, it starts to rain again. And rain. And rain. And rain. I'm not clear that I'll ever make it off the Yucatan peninsula unless I can find a submarine with wheels.
Off the grid
Fyi..today is Sunday, June 2nd...it's about 2:00 pm. i'm outside of Tulum, Mexico. i'm going off the grid for a few days. I'll be free diving in a protected marine sanctuary in the Caribbean near Punta Allen, Mexico, in the state of Quintana Roo. No electricity. No cell coverage. No lights. Sleeping in little cabana/hammocks they rent on the beach. ¡Buen viaje!
June 1, 2013
Postcards from Nowhere: Peoria to Panama - Day 13: Champotón to Pisté, Mexico
Above: A local gathers wood on a scooter along Mexico 180D near Merida, Mexico.
Update: I am alive and well and resting quietly in the Mexican State of Yucatan, on the Yucutan Peninsula in the town of Pisté, Mexico.
Saturday June 1, 2013
Motorcycle Odometer (at start of day): 3,108
Motorcycle Odometer (at end of day): 3,339
Miles driven today: 231 miles
The truth is that I have nothing to go home to. I have nothing. The road is all I have. It's my only friend. The one thing I can count on when nothing else seems to be worth counting.
OK. Racing across the Mexican state of Campeche, on the Yucatan peninsula at 120 mph. Passed a state police going well north of 100 mph. No problem.
Every night, in my dreams, I'm racing down the Yucatan at 110 mph, and suddenly, I see a speed bump. Somehow I'd missed it It's unpainted. There was no sign. Or I missed the signs. And I hit the speed bump going 120 and I wake up with the sheets soaking wet.
Always in the heat of the day, it's like driving in a hair dryer. I need to break up the ride into two rides. A morning ride and an afternoon ride when It's cooler and I'm less tired.
The cell phone GPS i have taped in my dash turns upside down every so often. I don't know why. But the display goes upside down. So, if it says turn right, you turn left. All of this at 120 mph, of course.
It's very difficult driving at 120 mph because, everything happens very quickly. Road conditions change. Coming up behind cars is extremely difficult, because its hard to judge how fast they're going. If' they're going the speed limit, it's like they're parked. I like to open my visor when I come into a construction zone or a military checkpoint going 120. It's helps bring you back into reality.
At one of the military checkpoints, a guy with an AR-15 waves me over. He's with the state police (Policia Estatos Especial). But he just likes my bike and wants to know where it's from. I tell him in Spanish that it's two weeks old, and I'm driving from Chicago to Panama.
I always have the worst time with the pronunciation....If I say "Pan uh maw", they have no clue what I'm talking about. I have to say "Pan eh ma". You kinda have to sing it a little to get them to understand. But they all know where Panama is. They just can't tell what I'm saying.
Always, these late afternoon thunderstorms blow up. If I had any sense, I'd get up in the morning and ride early. I guess that's what I'm going to have to start doing, as I can't ride in the pouring rain. It's not safe, for one reason. I can't see. I'm soaking wet. I mean, I guess that, in theory, I could wear rain gear, but I'm not clear how much fun that would be.
Every town you roll into has speed bumps. And at these speed bumps, are the local street vendors. Selling everything conceivable. Mangos, pineapples, watermelons, coconut juice, coconut meat, and other things I can't even recognize.
Every overpass shades either vendors, a state police inspection point, or the soldiers. The overpasses offer shade from the brutal Yucutan sun, or cover from the afternoon thunderstorms that roll in like clockwork every afternoon.
And I'm just racing across the peninsula as fast as I can go.
Precaucion Doble Remolque
"Doble Remolque" is what these 18 wheelers with double trailers are called. They're so dangerous. They have doubled-up gasoline tankers driving down these tiny roads and they really have nearly zero control over that second trailer. It just sort of wanders all over the place, so when you're passing them, you've really got to be paying attention.
The most dangerous roads are those that have a one lane going each direction, no divided median, and a recognizable, painted shoulder. This is what, in the United States, you'd call a 2-lane black topped road. Now, the shoulder is ostensibly, for people walking, riding bicycles, or mopeds/scooters. That's generally what you'll see on the shoulder.
The lane that you're driving in, although it is ostensibly your lane, is actually a shared lane between you and oncoming traffic. If someone is coming at you, and wants to pass, they will pass. And they will come into your lane to do it. So say two double-trailer 18 wheeler gasoline tankers are coming at you. One will move onto their shoulder. The other one will split your lane with you. And expect you
OBEDEZCA LAS SENALES
The problem with the signs is that they're all in Spanish. And I have no clue what they mean. I really don't. So, the one sign I understand says "Obey The Signs", but I can't obey them if I can't understand them. So, I just look at the signs and sort of nod, as though I fully intend to abide by them, when of course I truly have no clue.
The street signs are also very confusing. Like, if you're on Mexico 180, the road will fork, and go three different ways, to three different towns, and they're all labeled as Mexico 180. So, this is just maddening. It's not something you would ever see in the United States.
It starts to rain, so I stop and now I'm sitting in a little quasi-legal bus depot, sheltered from the rains. I'm not sure what goes on here really. Like some sort of ride share I guess?
You would think that the clouds would run out of water down here, but they seem not to. Only they rain and rain and rain some more. Fish are swimming in the streets. The vendors all seek refuge from the storm.
After I've been sitting there for about a half hour or so, the rain lets up, so I start off again. Just hell-bent for leather, as fast as I can go, trying to get to Chichen Itza tonight. But, after I've gone another 10-15 miles, it starts raining again.
At 3:00 pm, I've gone about 150 miles, and the thunderstorms start to close in again. I'm been building them all day. Creating them in my mind. Painting the sky with dark grey storms all day. Now, they're finally here. It's not my imagination any more. It starts raining, hard enough to drown ducks. I'm driving down the road, and it's raining so hard I can't see. Can't see through my visor. Can't see if there are cars in front of me or not. This is dangerous. I'm not this stupid. But what to do? I glance around the Yucatan peninsula. There are no trees to speak of. The hurricanes take care of that. Only there are little bushes here and there. I've got to find shelter. Have to get out of this thunderstorm, somehow.
It starts raining so hard that I can't see at all. Can't see through my own visor. So, this is dangerous. Too dangerous. Even I'm not this stupid.
Finally, I come across another bus stop with an overhang to protect the passengers from the elements, so I duck in seeking shelter from the storm. No one else is here. I'm sitting here, dripping wet. Glad to be out of the elements, but what now?
My GPS is useless. It said I was at Chicha Itzen 20 miles ago. So, the GPS isn't going to help me find the place. And it's odd to be down here, just sort of feeling my way along blindly. It's hard to know why I'm here really. And if I'm not sure, it's not like I could really explain it to anyone else.
I set up my laptop and start taking notes because, I'm bored.
So, I'm sort of sidetracked, sitting here in a blinding thunderstorm, and another little motocycleta pulls up. He's wearing a brand new bright yellow raincoat. So, at least he's go that going for him. He stops and walks under the overhang with me. Now, in all the news stories, this is where he pulls out a knife and steals my iPhone, my MacBook Air, and my Canon cameras. But instead, this doesn't happen. Instead, I introduce myself. He says his name is "Eddie", and we sit and talk for some time. I talk to him in Spanish, and he talks to me in English.
And, while we're sitting there, a white car pulls up and stops, but no one gets out.
"Problema?" I ask Eddie?
"No. No amigo. No hay problema," he reasures me. He senses my nervousness. My apprehension. But there is no problem here. The car goes away. Now, another motorcycle stops to get out of the rain. I introduce myself now to the new guy. Diego is his name.
Now, mostly, Diego and Eddie are chattering back and forth in Spanish. Most of it I don't get. Parts of it I pick up. But, they're the nicest guys you could meet. We friend each other on Facebook, and sit for some time waiting for the rain to stop. Eventually, the rain does let up significantly. It's still raining, but it's no pouring, and finally, we all agree to leave together as a group. Now, the other two guys drive on the shoulder at something insane like 15 mph. So, basically I take off going ninety to nothing, and leave them behind.
Now, it's still raining, but I'm not stopping again. Not until I get to Chichen Itza. Because I'm not spending the night at a freaking bus shelter. And, there is some logic to the theory that, if it's raining, and you drive faster, you'll get out of the rain sooner. And, if you follow that logic out to its ridiculous, absurd conclusion, you'll figure out what I did which is open it up pretty much full throttle. For a while, I was going 108. Then, 116, then 120. And pretty much that's where I held it in a light rain.
So, I'm blowing across the Yucatan Peninsula in a light rain going 120 mph and, it finally occurs to me...it finally dawns on me, that I don't need Carrie. I can live without her. I'm going to be OK. I don't need anyone. I'm going to be OK being alone. I'm going to be fine with myself. No one with any sense that cared about me would ever allow me to drive 120 mph in the rain across the Yucatan Peninsula on some mad dash through Central America. It isn't sane. It doesn't make sense. No one with any sense would ever have allowed me to do this. If I'd have had to ask permission, and I wouldn't have gotten it. And racing across the Yucatan peninsula in the rain is exactly what makes me happy.
All of this comes to me as I'm racing down the road in a light rain. I'm going to be OK. I don't need her. In fact, I'm better off without her. I'm going to be fine. This realization hits me now like a ton of bricks. This is what I came down here for. This experience. This maddening, insane dash through Central America. This is what I'm all about. This is what makes me happy. I always knew this would be an amazing trip, and I never planned on doing it with anyone else. I always wanted to do it alone because, honestly, I don't believe I know anyone crazy enough to come with me. It's an insane journey. It's a journey through insanity, and beyond.
I'm OK with Carrie leaving now. I'm good with that. I'm happy for her and her new boyfriend. I hope they both find happiness. How could I feel any other way?
The rain begins to let up. Finally, it stops altogether. I'm driving just by following the roadsigns now. Looking for Chichen Itza.
I'm driving between 100 mph and 120 mph, just grinning like the cat that ate the canary. I'm going to be OK. I'm still alive. I can still be happy. And she can go on with whats-his-face. And I can be happy for them. All of this was something I came down here looking for. I was looking for salvation. And I couldn't find it lying in bed. There was nothing there for me but the inside of my skull.
Down here, I'm saved. I'm free. There's no one to be mad at. Nothing to get upset about. Who can control the weather? No one. Who can tell me where to spend the night? No one. Who is giving me a hard time and causing me angst now? No one but myself, up until this point. And now, no one is. Because I've forgiven myself. I've forgiven her. I've forgiven everyone there is to forgive. I let it all go. Now, I can be happy.
All of this comes to me as I'm driving the bike at 120 mph down Mexico 180 on the way to Chichen Itza.
I'm so happy. So glad to be down here. So insanely happy to be able to do this trip. So glad to be alive. And, I mean, it's not like I want to slow down. There's a huge part of me that needs this. This is what massages my soul. The very thing that makes sane people shutter, is what draws me to this adventure. I've already driven a dirt bike from Alaska to Cabo San Lucas. Already driven from Denver to SF three times. Already driven around Lake Michigan. What else was there to do?
This all goes back to a time a few years back when I tried to drive down to El Salvador in a Honda Prelude. I got down to the Mexican border at Chula-juana and chickened out. I was old and tired and didn't feel up to it, and I turned back. I turned tail and ran back to SF. Parked the car at the airport, pulled the plates and threw them in the trash, and flew back to Denver.
But that was then. this is now. Now, I've talked to a lot of people on the road. And I know what happens inside a man's head when he's alone on the road to. The doubt seeps in around the edges, behind the curtains. Doubt grabs you by the chin and pulls your eyes up to face her, eye to eye, and tells you that she loves you. Doubt takes control and raises all sorts of issues. Who are you to be doing this? No one else is doing it. Why are you? You must be insane. You are bored. Lonely. Tired. And very far from home. It's time to go home now, don't you think?
This is what doubt says. And she changes things. She puts you on the road home, long before your adventure is completed. But I know this now. I know this thanks to a friend I met on the road to Alaska. He told me "go where you planned on going. Go to where you told everyone you were going. Don't stop short. Don't shortcut your adventure. Go all the way."
You have to think of yourself as two different people. It's the only way. You have to think, not about the person you are now. Think about your future self. Think about yourself a month from now, when you're back in the elevator at work. When you're walking into the elevator in the morning and you push 14 and you're going to have a long day ahead of you behind a computer. You have to think about that person. You have to be able to look that person in the eye. Because that time is coming. That day is coming. It is out there. Waiting.
So, I'm all in. I'm going to Panama. Or I'm going to die trying. I know a couple of people that found their fathers after they committed suicide. And I wouldn't wish that on anyone. This is not a suicide run. I plan on making it. But I'm not turning back without setting foot in Panama. I'm all in. I'm not afraid of the rain. The smog. The drug runners. The banditos.
I don't know what I'll do once I get there. I don't really have a plan for that yet. But that's OK. We'll deal with that when I get there. I have a few ideas in my head about what to do once I get there.
A light rain falls in the streets of Pisté, Mexico. The rain washes away the pollution, leaving the air fresh and breathable for a short moment. I find the entrance to the Chicha Itzen pyramids, but they are closed for the day. Come back in the morning.
I drive back to a hotel I passed. "You have internet here? In the rooms? There is hot water?" OK. Fine. I'll take it. $850 pesos? Seems a little high, but I'm in no position to barter. I'm soaked to the bone and it's the only hotel I saw when I drove through town. The room is warm, which feels good to me. I've been driving in the rain for the last 60 miles and, I'm not freezing, but I'm not warm either. The room feels good. Nice hot shower. Today is laundry day, so I wash all my clothes in the shower and hang them up to dry.
Now, I'm driving the bike in a light rain wearing a bathing suit and a shirt. That is all.
There are no laws here. No helmet laws. I ride through the streets of Pisté wearing nothing but a bathing suit and a shirt. No gloves. No shoes. No helmet. All of that is gone now. That was the old Rob. That was Rob back in Los Estados Unidas. But down here, everything is different.
A woman is grilling chickens in the streets. I stop for dinner. She brings me a 1/2 a grilled chicken, a bowl of soup, and a Mirinda naranja (orange) drink. The cost is $50 pesos (about $4.00 USD).
A starving, stray dog walks the streets. A man rides by on a scooter, overburdened with groceries, somehow. Whole families ride by on a single moped.
Now, I'm drinking at the hotel bar. There's no one here. I'm the only customer and a couple of ninos come through running their mouths. Singing way too loud, and they're old enough to know better.
"Silencio ninos!" I shout at them.
Like..."Lord God Jesus shut your freaking mouth. And your tell your dad I'm at the bar if he wants some too."
Some guy comes up with an australian accent and asks how much a coke is. They tell him it's 50 pesos and he balks and walks away. I'm like..."Seriously? Get the fuck out of here.." Like...dude...you flew to Mexico. And you're going to complain that a Coke costs $4.00 USD in a hotel. What the hell? I just have no patience for that. I truly don't. Like..this isn't a grocery store, dude. It's a freaking bar. Get over it. How much did you think it would be? A nickel?
Later, I run into a man that speaks English in the hotel lobby. He's asking me about my cameras, and I tell him I'm sort of wandering around, looking for an adventure. He tells me about this sweet little town on the Caribbean I've never heard of before called Punta Allen, so this is where I'm heading tomorrow.
OBEDEZCA LAS SENALES
I'd like to point out a few of the signs that I see down here, and look them up so that I'll know what they mean when I see them. It's really inexcusable to not understand what the signs say. Like I'd obviously never pass a driving test without being able to read.
CEDA EL PASO AL PEATON Give Way to Pedestrians
CON LLUVIA DISMINUYA SU VELOCIDAD In Rain Reduce Your Speed
CONCEDA CAMBIO DE LUCES Dim Your Lights Approaching Traffic
CURVA PELIGROSO Dangerous Curve
DISMINUYA SU VELOCIDAD Slow Down
ENTRADA Y SALIDA DE CAMIONES Trucks Entering and Exiting
EVITE ACCIDENTES Avoid Accidents
GUARDE SU DISTANCIA Keep Your Distance
MANEJE CON PRECAUCION Drive with Caution
NO MALTRATE LAS SENALES Don't Disregard the Signs
NO REBASE CON RAYA CONTINUA No Passing on a Continuous Line
NO TIRE BASURA Don't Throw Trash
OBEDEZCA LAS SENALES Obey the Signs
PRECUACION CRUCE DE PEATONES Caution Pedestrian Crossing
REDUCTOR DE VELOCIDAD Speed Bumps
RESPETE LIMITE DE VELOCIDAD Obey the Speed Limit
TOPES Speed Bumps
Ummm....I was told there'd be no math?
1 U.S. dollar = 12.8 Mexican pesos
1 Mexican peso = 0.08 U.S. dollars
100 Mexican pesos = 8 U.S. dollars
1 US gallon = 3.8 liters
1 liter = 0.26 US gallons
Cost of Premium(Roja) Gasolina: $12.03 pesos/liter
Cost of Premium(Roja) Gasolina: $ 3.61 USD/gallon
So, the gas is about the same price as I've been paying in the U.S., apparently.
Photographs in the Extended Entry