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December 31, 2017

Day 48 Photos [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador

Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 48 Photos [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 31, 2017 at 6:05 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Day 49 [Sun 12/31/2017] - Riobamba to Zapotillo, Ecuador

Day 49 [Sun 12/31/2017] - Riobamba to Zapotillo, Ecuador

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hostal Los Guayacanes in Zapotillo, Ecuador.

Starting Odometer: 12,618
Ending Odometer: 12,943
Distance Traveled Today: 325 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 8,340 miles [12,943 - 4,603]
Distance Traveled This Trip(in Km): 13,422 km

My ride today looks something like this.

Forecast:
Riobamba - Rain.
Lalamor - Rain.

Continue reading "Day 49 [Sun 12/31/2017] - Riobamba to Zapotillo, Ecuador"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 31, 2017 at 5:57 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 30, 2017

Day 47 Photos [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador

Day 47 Photos [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador

Continue reading "Day 47 Photos [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 30, 2017 at 5:42 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 48 [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador

Day 48 [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the El Turista Hostal in Riobamba, Ecuador.

Starting Odometer: 12,380
Ending Odometer: 12,618
Distance Traveled Today: 238 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 8,015 miles [12,618 - 4,603]
Distance Traveled This Trip(in Km): 12,900 km


My ride for Saturday looks something like this.

Forecast for Quito, Ecuador: Rain. Great. Big surprise.

I'm not real clear where we go after Quito. I'm voting for the Atacama desert.

"I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." - Jack Kerouac

Continue reading "Day 48 [Sat 12/30/2017] - Ibarra, Ecuador to Riobamba, Ecuador"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 30, 2017 at 5:30 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 28, 2017

Day 46 Photos [Thr 12/28/2017] - Chinchiná to Remolino en Narino, Colombia

Day 46 Photos [Thr 12/28/2017] - Chinchiná to Remolino en Narino, Colombia

More photos in the extended entry.

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Posted by Rob Kiser on December 28, 2017 at 8:42 PM : Comments (4) | Permalink

Day 47 [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador

Day 47 [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador.

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hospedaje Buenaventura in Ibarra, Ecuador.

Starting Odometer: 12,184
Ending Odometer: 12,380
Distance Traveled Today: 196 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 7,777 miles [12,380 - 4,603]

My ride for Friday looks something like this.

Forecast for Ipiales, Ecuador calls for rain. Great.

For some reason, my Garmin doesn't show the road going from Otavalo to Quito. So, I'll just use the Garmin to navigate to Otavalo. If I'm able to continue on to Quito, then I'll just ignore the Garmin on the part from Otavalo to Quito, and use the Waze app on the segment from Otavalo to Quito. Not sure why the road is missing there. Hmmmm.

Continue reading "Day 47 [Fri 12/29/2017] - Remolino en Narino, Colombia to Ibarra, Ecuador"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 28, 2017 at 6:50 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 27, 2017

Day 45 Photos [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia

Day 45 Photos [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia

More photos in extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 45 Photos [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2017 at 8:46 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Day 46 [Thr 12/28/2017] - Chinchiná to Remolino en Narino, Colombia

Day 46 [Thr 12/28/2017] - Chinchiná to Remolino en Narino, Colombia

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel & Balneario Paraiso in Remolino es Narino, Colombia.

Starting Odometer: 11,843
Ending Odometer: 12,184
Distance Traveled Today: 341 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 7,581 miles [12,184 - 4,603]

My ride looks something like this.

Refueling Points:
- Chinchiná 0 hrs 0 Miles
- Puerto Tejada 4 hrs 160 Miles
- Mercaderes 5 hrs 150 Miles (310 miles total)

Forecast:
Looks like rain in the afternoon at Puerto Tejada.

OK. I get up iearly in the morning because I want to get some miles in today. Want to get started early before the rains come.

My Garmin Montana isn't working for some reason. I google the issue online, and they suggest that it's the rechargable battery that's the issue. So, in theory, if I replace the rechargeable battery unit with AA batteries, it will work again. So now, up to the Supermarcado for a pack of batteries. Only, I don't know how to say "battery" in Spanish, and I left my cell phone in the room. Hmmmm.

So I walk around the store until I find a pack of AA batteries. Pop them into my Garmin, and now the Garmin is working again. Thank God.

I walk to get my motorcycle from the place where I had parked it last night. They charged me like....$2-3 to park it there over night. Covered. Locked. Personal body guard, etc.

Continue reading "Day 46 [Thr 12/28/2017] - Chinchiná to Remolino en Narino, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2017 at 7:24 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Quilotoa Lake in Ecuador

https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=quilotoa+lake&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2017 at 6:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

iOverlander

This is the website that Jenny keeps talking about. Apparently it's the best website to plan your adventures on. It has all of the hostels, and reviews, and there's an app you can install, etc.

http://ioverlander.com

Also booking.com

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2017 at 6:06 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 45 [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia

Day 45 [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully at the Hotel Estacion in Chinchiná, Colombia.

Starting Odometer: 11,688
Ending Odometer: 11,843
Distance Traveled Today: 155 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 7,240 miles [11,843 - 4,603]

My ride today looks something like this.

Fuel:
Santa Barbara, toquio
22,909 pesos
2.574 gallons
8900 pesos/gallon
1:09 p.m.
11,751 odometer


Forecast:
Looks like about a 30% chance of rain today in El Lembo and Tulua, Colombia.


I wake up in the morning to the sound of crowing roosters and, this is one of those things I can't really describe. I'll go back to Colorado at some point, and I'll never hear another rooster crow in my life, and I'll forget that I even heard roosters on my trip. But a rooster crowing instantly returns me to my childhood, the same way as a train engineer's horn does. It take me back...way back...to my childhood. Like this forgotten memory that suddenly pops to the front of your brain. Funny how that works.

Continue reading "Day 45 [Wed 12/27/2017] - San Jeronimo to Chinchiná, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 27, 2017 at 5:51 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 25, 2017

Day 44 [Tue 12/26/2017] - Turbo to San Jeronimo, Colombia

Day 44 [Tue 12/26/2017] - Turbo to San Jeronimo, Colombia

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully at the Hostel Lafinca in San Jeronimo, Colombia.

Starting Odometer: 11,483
Ending Odometer: 11,688
Distance Traveled Today: 205 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 7,805 miles [11,688 - 4,603]

My ride for tomorrow looks something like this.

Gas:
0 Turbo, Colombia
170 Santa Fe de Antioquia, Antioquia, Colombia
293 Irra, Colombia

Forecast:
Looks like a high in the 80's/90's. Chance of rain along the way at about 10%-30%.

In the morning, we wake up, check out of the hostel, and then head out to the military base in Turbo where the Aduana office is located. It's called DIAN (Dirreccion de Impuesios y Aduanas Nacionales). We stop, and they record our passport numbers, then allow us to proceed onto the base. At the base, we stop at the DIAN building. He shows us where to park the bikes. Some guy comes out and says he'll check and see if they can do the paperwork on our bikes, it seems. Then, he disappears like snow in the Spring time. Eventually, I figure he's never coming back. But eventually, he does come back and then we follow him into a nice cold office, and he processes each of our bikes in, one at a time. He sort of glances at the VIN numbers on the bikes. And then he issues us our paperwork for the bike. Probably it's a Temporary Import Permit for the bikes. I dunno. I didn't even glance at it. We're supposed to have insurance on the bikes, but no one does, and he doesn't even ask about it.

They serve us coffee as he processes the paperwork for each of the bikes.

Eventually, he gives us the paperwork for the bikes and we leave. Now, we head out of town. On the way out of town, we stop and gas up. Now, we roll out of town and, as soon as we get out of Turbo, the countryside is just beautiful. Eventually, we start climbing into the mountains which are stunning. No one ever told me about Colombia. I found it myself. And now, we're winding through the mountain roads. We stop for a late lunch in the afternoon in Mutata.

Later, at about 4:00 in the afternoon, we come to some town, and there is some discussion of stopping here for the night. But, we've gone pretty much nowhere today. We haven't gone 100 miles. So, we decide to keep riding to Medellin and some hostel that Jenny knows about.

Now, we are riding crazy fast through the mountains. Trying to get there before dark.
It rains on us some as we go through the mountains, but not a lot.

We pass through the town of Santa Fe de Antioquia, Antioquia, Colombia, which is beautiful, and I'm hoping this is where we will stay for the night, but it's not. Instead, we keep going. That town was so nice. I wish that we would have stopped.

Eventually, we come into some town, which I thought was Medellin, but now I think that we were in San Jeronimo. So now, we are supposed to go up this steep dirt road on motorcycles to go to some hostel at the top of it that she read about on some app called iOverlander. A 30 minute ride up an 8 km dirt road. I'm very close to saying no, but she says the hotel at the bottom of the hill is $160 a night, and at the hostel, is $30 a night. So, I ride up the deathtrap road, somehow without crashing.

At the top, we find our hostel, and settle in for the night.


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 6:36 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 43 [Mon 12/25/2017] - Christmas in Hell (Turbo, Colombia)

Day 43 [Mon 12/25/2017] - Christmas in Hell (Turbo, Colombia)

I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Costa Del Sol in Turbo, Colombia.

If ever there was such a place as Hell on Earth, Turbo is certainly it. Or, if Turbo isn't hell, then maybe it was the model for it.

The sole form of transportation appears to be scooters, which was clearly not the case in Sapzurro or Capurgana. In Sapzurro, I think that there was only one motorcycle in town. And in Capurgana, they had Cargueros, and that was it.

Now, it's very dangerous to cross the street here. You have to look both ways, and then just start walking across the street and try to walk in a predictable, steady pace, so that you're not run over by the hordes of motorcycles that terrorize the streets.

There are no lines painted on the streets. Some drive on the left. Some ride on the right. There's no set pattern to the chaotic madness.

Horses pulling carts walk the streets, like a scene from the civil war.

It's not unusual to see a family of 4 on one motorcycle with no helmets.

The loudspeakers up and down the street are constantly blaring out very bad music. Very loudly.

We're staying here because the police said it was safe, and it's close to the police station. The police ride by and honk a horn. I look, and they are waving at me. These are the police that escorted us down to the docks last night wherre we unloaded our bikes. Very cool cops. Nothing like the police in the United States. Nothing remotely like the police in the USA. In this case, the police actually helped us instead of trying to rob us. The Morrison police could learn a thing from them.

I walk outside just long enough to go find something to eat. A fried chicken stand on the corner. People are all freaking out on the streets. They're shaking their heads at me, indicating that I have to lose the camera. This is what I hate. More than anything. I'm fucking this bull. You just hold the horns.

So, I hide my camera, and continue my walk to the chicken stand for lunch.

The man in front of me orders some chicken, but then doesn't give her enough money when it's time to pay. So, he returns the chicken. It's impossible to know how much anything costs, really. I've just given up. The 3:000 to one exchange rate is just too much for me. Whatever they ask for, I just hand it to them. I hate changing currencies all of the time like this. This is one of the least rewarding aspects of the trip. Constantly changing currencies. Learning new exchange rates every other day. Panama spoiled me. Technically, they use the Balboa as their currency, but the exchange rate is 1:1 with the USD, and they don't print bills. They only mint their own coins.

So, that was nice when we were back on U.S. dollars. Now, if only we could teach the Panamanians to speak engish and get off of the metric system, we'd be home free.

We have WiFi at the hotel, and it has A/C. But no hot water.

Next door, they have something called Helado y crema. Basically, a frozen snow cone with cream poured over it. Delicious. Mostly, I see this trip as an exploration of snacks and candies of Latin America. One of my favorite past times is to sample all of the treats I've never seen before.

So yesterday, when we found an ATM, I took out 600,000 pesos. I hate to be short on cash in these little third world villages.

Tomorrow, we will go to Aduana and try to get our motorcycles cleared through Aduana. Then, if we are successful, I will take off for Quito, Ecuador.

Toon and I shared a room. We were here for 2 nights. The total bill is 90,000 Colombian Pesos. So, 45,000 pesos each, which is $15 USD each...total....for 2 nights. So, it was $7.50 a night per person. Hard to grasp, really.

After we check out, our plan is to roll over and try to clear Aduana in the morning. After we clear Aduana, then I will hit the road for Quito, Ecuador, a 3 day ride, roughly.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 6:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Greg Loading Up in Sapzurro, Colombia


https://www.youtube.com/edit?o=U&video_id=L-uEMb59F14

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 4:17 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 40 Photos [Fri 12/22/17] - Capurgana, Colombia

Day 40 Photos [Fri 12/22/17] - Capurgana, Colombia

More photos in the extended entry.

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Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 2:53 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 42 Photos [Sun 12/24/17] - Sapzurro to Capurgana to Turbo, Colombia

Day 42 Photos [Sun 12/24/17] - Sapzurro to Capurgana to Turbo, Colombia

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 42 Photos [Sun 12/24/17] - Sapzurro to Capurgana to Turbo, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 1:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 41 Photos [Sat 12/23/17] - Capurgana, Colombia to Sapzurro, Colombia

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 41 Photos [Sat 12/23/17] - Capurgana, Colombia to Sapzurro, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 25, 2017 at 11:24 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 24, 2017

Day 39 Photos [Thr 12/21/17] - San Blas Islands to Sapzurro, Colombia, to Obaldia, Panama, to Capurgana, Colombia

Day 39 Photos [Thr 12/21/17] - San Blas Islands to Sapzurro, Colombia, to Obaldia, Panama, to Capurgana, Colombia

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 39 Photos [Thr 12/21/17] - San Blas Islands to Sapzurro, Colombia, to Obaldia, Panama, to Capurgana, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 24, 2017 at 3:45 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

Day 38 Photos [Wed12/20/17] - Devil's Keys to Bagga Dub, San Blas Islands

Day 38 Photos [Wed12/20/17] - Devil's Keys to Bagga Dub, San Blas Islands

(Additional photos in the extended entry.)

Continue reading "Day 38 Photos [Wed12/20/17] - Devil's Keys to Bagga Dub, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 24, 2017 at 2:43 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

Day 37 Photos [Tue12/19/17] - Chichime Island to Devil's Keys, San Blas Islands


Day 37 Photos [Tue12/19/17] - Chichime Island to Devil's Keys, San Blas Islands

(Additional photos in the extended entry.)

Continue reading "Day 37 Photos [Tue12/19/17] - Chichime Island to Devil's Keys, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 24, 2017 at 2:11 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 42 [Sun 12/24/17] - Sapzurro to Capurgana to Turbo, Colombia

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Costa Del Sol in Turbo, Colombia.

Sunday 11/24/2017

At 5:30 in the morning, I wake to the sound of Toon's alarm clock. Mine is set for 6:00 a.m. I start thinking about where I am and what I have to do today. I just want this nightmare to be over.

I get up and try to turn on the lights, but can't get them to come on.

"Why won't the lights work?" I ask.

"We lost power last night at about 3:00 a.m."

So now, I'm using my flashlight to crawl around the room, trying to pack up in the dark to get on this boat. At some point, this madness has to end. This third world attitude of devil-may-care if the power is out has to stop. It's just maddening.

Continue reading "Day 42 [Sun 12/24/17] - Sapzurro to Capurgana to Turbo, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 24, 2017 at 12:33 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 23, 2017

Day 41 [Sat 12/23/17] - Capurgana, Colombia to Sapzurro, Colombia

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hostel Dule in Sapzurro, Colombia.

Day 41 [Sat 12/23/17] - Capurgana, Colombia to Sapzurro, Colombia

I wake up in the morning, to the sound of the boats engine and the gently swaying of the ocean. Only to realize, after some time, that I'm no longer on a boat. I'm not on the ocean. I'm in a hostel in Capurgana, Colombia. I'm not clear what the noise was I was hearing.

Some of us meet for breakfast at the Hostel Capurgana.

Donnie is here. He has been here many times. He has a lot of good stories from his adventures in the Carribbean.

Tom shares his video with me of Fritz screaming WTF? back at the docks in Sapzurro.

I play it for everyone and we're all laughing. Very stressful time. We motored away from the pier because Donnie had taken the rope and tied it onto the boat's cleats, and it ripped the cleat off of the boat. So Fritz is screaming "ZEEE AHHHH LEEEEEEVING!!!" at the top of his lungs and leaves his entire crew on the dock and motors out into the harbor to get away from the rough waves on the pier.

Continue reading "Day 41 [Sat 12/23/17] - Capurgana, Colombia to Sapzurro, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 23, 2017 at 6:51 PM : Comments (4) | Permalink

December 22, 2017

Day 36 Photos [Mon 12/18/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama to Chichime Island, San Blas Islands

Continue reading "Day 36 Photos [Mon 12/18/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama to Chichime Island, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2017 at 8:37 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 38 [Wed 12/20/17] - Devil's Island, Pelican Island, & Baggadub Island, San Blas Islands

Day 38 [Wed 12/20/17] - Devil's Island, Pelican Island, & Baggadub Island, San Blas Islands

In the morning, we wake up and the left engine won't start.

I'm thinking that both of my cameras are now dead. Yesterday, my new Canon EOS 80D battery wouldn't charge, so I figure that once it's dead, it's dead. Also, on my one quasi-functional EOS 50D, the dial that controls the shutter speed isn't working. So, i'm reasonably sure that I'm going to finish my San Blas Island tour watching the others on the boat take photos with their iphones.

But then, I decide to plug in my camera battery, and it does charge a bit, as one of the diesel engines is running. So there's a chance I'll be able to get some shots with the new camera today.

Then, I swap batteries with my EOS 50D, and it will shoot photos in the full-auto mode.

So now, we sit and eat breakfast on the back of the boat. They discuss the various methods of determining if a boiled egg is safe to eat. If it's green. If the air bubble inside the egg is in the wrong location. If it has an embryonic chicken in it, etc.

Apparently, the diesel engine get air in it, and because of this, it won't start. But this was an issue yesterday also, apparently, and we sailed all day on one engine.

So now, Fritz tells us that we can swim, as we're not going anywhere any time soon, apparently.

Some of the people swim in the ocean around the boat, but I'm not crazy about the idea of getting my swimsuit wet. Or having to put my contacts on.

It could be worse, but not a lot worse, it seems.

Continue reading "Day 38 [Wed 12/20/17] - Devil's Island, Pelican Island, & Baggadub Island, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2017 at 6:42 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 37 [Tue 12/19/17] - Chichime Island, San Blas Islands

Day 37 [Tue 12/19/17] - Chichime Island, San Blas Islands

In the morning, I awake, deep in the hull of the San Blas Cat. No one is in the bed with me, but I"m pretty sure there was supposed to be another person in the bed also. Not that I'm complaining, mind you. I love having the space.

No one else is awake, and I go up on deck quietly to shoot the early morning light.

Beside us, on the sound side of the island, is a truly massive yacht, with a helicopter on it. Hard to imagine who owns it, or how much they must be worth. We've got about 16 people crammed onto our boat. And this guy has massive yacht that he flies to on his private helicopter. Hard to really grasp that kind of wealth.

Continue reading "Day 37 [Tue 12/19/17] - Chichime Island, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2017 at 5:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Mystery Yacht in San Blas Islands

We spotted this insane yacht when we anchored for the night in the San Blas Islands. My initial assumption was that it was owned by some rich person from the United States and, as it turns out, I was right. It is owned by Charles Simonyi, a former Software Engineer from Microsoft. Estimated net worth is $1.4 billion. Has his own private helicopter on it and everything. Nice.

Continue reading "Mystery Yacht in San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2017 at 1:36 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 40 [Fri 12/22/17] - Capurgana, Colombia

Friday December 22nd, 2017

In the morning, we wake up to clear Immigracion, which opens at 8:00 a.m. I set my alarm for 7:00 a.m. Last night, I told Greg and Jenny to meet me at Immigracion at 7:59 a.m. I'm not sure that I could get through this on my own, and they're staying in a different hostel, albeit one immediately adjacent to mine. But we are so very far out on a limb here. We've now left my motorcycle in a town and I'm not even sure what the name of the hostel we left it at was. If I lose track of Toon, Greg, and Jenny, I'm not sure that I could make it out of this little 3rd world sand trap.

It's difficult because, there are 4 of us who are sort of fused together by dilemna, circumstance, and confusion. We're trying to sort this out, walking around this third world jungle, ruled by Nacional Policia walking around with Colt .45 pistols.

Our situation is that we wake up in Capurgana, Colombia. Our bikes are at a hostel in Sapzuro, Colombia. And we need to get them to Turbo, Colombia.
The only place that we can clear aduana with the bikes is in Turbo. But the smaller boats will take you to Necocli, where you would then ride down the road illegally for about 100 km to Turbo, where you would then clear the bikes with Aduana.

Perfect. Nailed it. Well played.

This is my nightamare. Welcome to my own private hell.

Continue reading "Day 40 [Fri 12/22/17] - Capurgana, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 22, 2017 at 11:59 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 21, 2017

Day 39 [Thr 12/21/17] - San Blas Islands to Capurgana, Colombia

December 21, 2017 10:39 a.m.

In the morning, my alarm goes off. I'm supposed to get up at something crazy like 5:30 a.m., and they will take us in to swim on the beach, as long as we are in the water by 6:00 a.m. Then, we can swim until 6:30 a.m. But, if no one is in the water by 6:10 a.m., then we sail without swimming. Sort of like a sailing prison.

I decide to sleep in. I didn't come on this trip to be ruled by an alarm clock.

The funny thing about this area...the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama is that a) I'd never heard of them before I started planning for this trip and b) they're inhabited by natives, and operate independently from Panama and Colombia. They are a sovereign country, and they don't believe in interbreeding. If one of them gets married to another race, or has a child with a person of a different race, then they are driven from the community. They live in this low-lying area along the coast of Panama, in the Darien Province. They don't live up in the mountains. They cling to the coast.

Their flag used to have the swastika on it, but the updated newest version of the flag does not have the swastika. But, the older flags are easy to spot throughout the San Blas Island chain.

Continue reading "Day 39 [Thr 12/21/17] - San Blas Islands to Capurgana, Colombia"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 21, 2017 at 6:34 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 17, 2017

Day 35 Photos [Sun 12/17/17]


More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 35 Photos [Sun 12/17/17]"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2017 at 8:04 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 36 [Mon 12/18/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama to Chichime Island, San Blas Islands

Day 36 [Mon 12/18/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama to Chichime Island, San Blas Islands.

Just so we're clear....tomorrow (Mon 12/18/17), if all goes as planned, I will load my motorcycle onto the "San Blas Cat" catamaran, and sail through the San Blas Islands to Colombia. If this works out, then I will not be on my motorcycle for 4 days, but will instead, be sailing on a catamaran through the San Blas Islands, on my way to Colombia. These islands are sovereign, meaning that they're not part of Panama or Colombia. They're independent.

I'm not clear if I will have cell coverage during this time or not. But there's zero chance that I've crashed my motorcycle and died, because I won't be on it. I should leave the dock in Portobelo, Panama tomorrow (Monday) morning at 10:00 a.m., if all goes as planned. [I am currently in Portobelo, so this is like a 1 minute ride for me, going only about 1/4 of a mile from the hostel to the dock.]

If I have cell coverage, then I will post updates as we sail for 4 days to Colombia. If I don't have cell coverage, then I won't post for 4 days or so, but I should re-enter civilization on Thursday, if my understanding of the voyage is correct.

Buen Viaje!

Update 1: Here is where they describe the route we take:

DEPARTURE PANAMA: every MONDAY PORTOBELO Public Dock- on side of the fortress ruins at village entrence 10.00 am arrives at PTO. OBALDIA/ SAPZURRO on the 4th day then from there: 1 hour boatride for $10.- to CAPURGANA (Immigration Colombia) 2 hours ferryride $30.- to Colombia (public bus available from there)

Update 2:

Monday December 18, 2017

We go down to the dock to prepare to set sail from Portobelo, Panama on the San Blas Cat.

There are three other motorcycles that will also load onto the boat. 2 of them are from Vancouver, British Colombia and are riding on KTM 1190's. The other guy they met along the way and is on a smaller bike, also a KTM. (KTM = Keep Throwing Money or Keep Tightening Me).


Continue reading "Day 36 [Mon 12/18/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama to Chichime Island, San Blas Islands"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2017 at 7:01 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 35 [Sun 12/17/17] - Tocumen, Panama, Panama to Portobelo, Colon, Panama

I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Portobelo Hostel in Portobelo, Colon Provice, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 11,380
Ending Odometer: 11,482
Distance Traveled Today: 102 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,879 miles [11,482 - 4,603]

Sunday December 17th, 2017

Portobelo - Es difícil Pero No es imposible. (Painted on a bus in Portobelo).

In the morning, I wake up and I have to check out of the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel in Tocumen, Panama, Panama. I like the hotel, but Panama City is a very dangerous city to be riding a motorcycle in on a daily basis (due to the traffic jams).

I'm trying to figure out what to do. FedEx is holding my package, so I plan to go into Colon and sign whatever they want me to sign so that I don't have to sue the bastards in court, which is where we're heading, I'm afraid.

The motrocycle is having issues, I'm not clear why. It backfires and dies while I'm riding it. I trust the Honda as much as I trust the KTM, which isn't much.

It starts right up in the morning, which surprises me.

So, as I'm heading out of town, I stop to gas up at a Delta gas station. I intentionally don't get gas from Terpel. I've convinced msyelf that I got bad gas from the Terpel station in Colon. Either that or the guy that poured a gallon of gas into my tank form a plastic soda bottle gave me bad gas. That's my theory, anyway.

Continue reading "Day 35 [Sun 12/17/17] - Tocumen, Panama, Panama to Portobelo, Colon, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 17, 2017 at 10:53 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

December 16, 2017

Taller [Spanish] = Workshop [English]

One of the things that's been bothering me is all these signs that say "something-or-other taller". And I'm like...what in the hell do they mean by that?

Turns out that "taller" in Spanish = "workshop" in English.

So that clears up a lot of things.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2017 at 7:02 PM : Comments (6) | Permalink

FedEx Panama - We Can Fuck Up Anything


Here's the link to the package I tried to ship to the USA.

Phone Numbers for FedEx in Panama:
FedEx 800-1122
FedEx 507-271-3838

FedEx Tracking Number: 811442551836

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2017 at 6:28 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 34 Photos - Portobelo, Puerto Lindo, Colon, Panama City, and Tocumen

Catching up on photos. I shot these in Panama over the last week in Portobelo, Puerto Lindo, Colon (pronounced Cologne), Panama City, and Tocumen.


More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 34 Photos - Portobelo, Puerto Lindo, Colon, Panama City, and Tocumen"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2017 at 6:00 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 34 [Sat 12/16/17] - Tocumen, Panama, Panama to Panama City, Panama, Panama


Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 11,349
Ending Odometer: 11,380
Distance Traveled Today: 31 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,777 miles [11,380 - 4,603]

Saturday December 16th, 2017

Tigers waiting to be tamed.

This morning, I get up, and head down to the Panabike store in Panama City. On the way there, I manage to snap some photos of the construction that's going on down here. I'm not clear what they're building, but my guess is that they're building a lightrail with glass-domed stations? Yeah...that's what it is. The first light-rail system in Central America. Hard to believe that we're going to get rid of the diesel buses. Horrors.

The traffic down here is just suicidal. I need to get out of this city. I'm just lane-splitting every day for miles, into and out of Panama City. It's every bit as dangerous as Los Angeles, if not more so.

Panabike's website says they open at 8:00 a.m. They told me they opened at 9:00 a.m. But they actually opened up about 9:15 a.m., or 9:30 a.m. maybe.

They were very helpful. They checked my oil. Checked my tire pressure. But they didn't think that anything was wrong with the bike. It starts fine, for them, of course.

I'm thinking that maybe I got some bad gas? I dunno. I'm not a mechanic. But they replaced my broken rear-view mirror for free.

While I'm in the store, I notice that they have Ram Mounts for sale. And I'm like..."yeah...one of my little rubber boots popped off of my Ram mounts....I see you have the little rubber boots for sale with a tube of superglue."

"Yes. You are supposed to super-glue them on there," he explains. Like...far be it from me to read the directions. So, I buy a spare set of RAM mount rubber boots plus superglue. Now I understand why they popped off when they got wet. Because they were never glued on there. Doh.

Now, I can't find my lens cap for my new camera lens. So I go up to the Albrook mall, reportedly the largest mall in Central or South America. But the places I go there don't have a lens cap that fits my new lens.

So I give up, and decide to go back to the hotel.

I go to the room and I manage to find my lens cap in one of the pockets of my riding pants.

I come out wearing just my swimsuit, and then I walk through the lobby to get something off of my bike in the parking lot. One of the attendent monkeys comes out and he's losing his mind because I don't have a shirt on. You can be arrested in this country for walking around without a shirt on, or riding a motorcycle without a shirt on. And I'm like....get over it, monkey. You have a pool, and it's legal to swim in the pool without a shirt. So, what's the difference if I'm in the parking lot you hotel monkey?

Then, I head towards the pool. The current temperature in Portobelo is 89 F, and the temperature in Tocumen is 84 F. But I think that it's generally cooler (and wetter) in Portobelo than it is in Tocumen.

As I'm stepping across the bar seats in the pool, I manage to drop my iphone 6S Plus into the pool. I broke the screen the first week I had it, so this is not a big surprise, to me, anyway.

Now, I've got to go upload my photos onto my laptop.


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 16, 2017 at 10:11 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 15, 2017

Day 33 [Fri 12/15/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama - Tocumen, Panama, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully (once again) in the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 11,263
Ending Odometer: 11,349
Distance Traveled Today: 86 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,746 miles [11,349 - 4,603]

Friday December 15th, 2017

Escape from Portobelo

In the morning, I wake up alone in the Hostel Portabelo. I'm the only one here, save the owner (Marco) and his helper (Juan).

It's raining, I think. It's hard to know for sure. Since I upgraded to a private room ($20 a night), I can hear the creek running down the steeply jungled hillside. So, it's hard to say for sure when it's raining. A safe bet is "always".

I've replace my Canon EOS 50D with a Canon EOS 80D, but I discovered last night that something is wrong with my iPhone 6S+. It's not charging right, for whatever reason. Like, if you wiggle the cable at all in the phone, then it stops charging. And I have 2 cables, and I tested both of them, and got the same results. So, my only guess is that the iphone has sort of wallowed out the charging port, due to the vibrations of riding on a motorcycle plugged into a USB port for 7,000 miles and 30 days. Something like that, it seems.

I just lay in bed until about 11:00 a.m. and then, I start thinking....if I'm going to see the Panama Canal, I have to get up now, and ride my bike into Panama City. Like, this is one of those things that, when I'm at home, I wish I'd done. I wish I'd explored/observed the Panama Canal more when I was here last time. And now, I've been pinned to the Carribbean port town of Portobelo for nearly a week, and I've not seen much outside of Portobelo, Porto Lindo, and Colon (pronounced Cologne).

And it occurs to me that, either I can get up and go see the Panama Canal, or I can lay in bed like a giant wet moth.

Continue reading "Day 33 [Fri 12/15/17] - Portobelo, Colon, Panama - Tocumen, Panama, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 15, 2017 at 5:23 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 14, 2017

Day 32 [Thr 12/14/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Portobelo Hostel in Portobelo, Colon Provice, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 11,155
Ending Odometer: x
Distance Traveled Today: x miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: x miles [x - 4,603]

Hotel Sister Moon

Today, I wake up and there's only me and this one girl in the hostel. She's leaving for the San Blas islands today. I mean, I suppose I could have done that also...just hop a boat to the San Blas. But I do have some tasks I want to get done before I leave for Colombia. Yesterday I bought a new camera in Colon. Now, I want to return to Colon (pronounced Cologne), and mail some things back to myself...a camera, all of my documents from Central America, some left-over currency from Central America. Like...I'm certainly not going to need these documents or currency from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, or Costa Rica once I get to Colombia. Also, my one Canon EOS 50D is solidly broken.

Anything I can get rid of, I need to. All of the coins I've saved along the way, I sort of hide them from myself. I stick them down into the crevices of my CC Filson bag. Now, I pull everything out into the open. Everything is exposed and evaluated. Does it need to continue with me to South America? If I can live without it, then it goes into the Canon EOS 80D box to be FedEx'd back to Colorado.

The other things I'd like to do is to buy a new shirt, and some Chaco sandals if I can find them.

Continue reading "Day 32 [Thr 12/14/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 14, 2017 at 4:00 PM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 13, 2017

Day 31 [Wed 12/13/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama

Starting Odometer: 11,037
Ending Odometer: 11,155
Distance Traveled Today: 118 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,552 miles [11,155 - 4,603]

In the morning, I get up, prepared to ride to Colon.

I want to go to the Panafoto camera store in Colon and buy a new Canon EOS 80D. But of course, it's raining, as always.
So I just sort of lie in bed, wishing that the rain would go away. And presently, it does fade away.

I decide that I have to try to make a concerted effort to get to Colon today. Now, this is tricky because of the weather,
but also because I'm low on fuel. And there are no gas stations to be found around here. Not in Colon. Not in Porto Lindo. Nowhere between here and Colon, to the best of my knowledge.

So I tell Marco Polo that I'm rolling out, but I'm leaving all of my gear at the Hostel Portobelo, to return later today. Mind you, it's only 30 miles to Colon. About a 1 hour drive, according to Waze.

Like...all of this is very hard to figure out. Should I take everything with me, or not? What if I get to Colon, and then it starts to pour? If I had all of my gear, then I could just stay in Colon? It's so hard to guess the right answers to this nightmare. But finally, I just decide to leave everything I have at the hostel. Take some cash, my passport, my wallet, riding gear, Garmin, and iPhone. That's all I'm taking.

And I set off for Colon.

Continue reading "Day 31 [Wed 12/13/17] - Portobelo, Panama - Colon, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 13, 2017 at 9:58 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 12, 2017

Authorized Canon Camera Retailers in Panama City, Panama

Estaré en la ciudad de Panamá, Panamá el miércoles, 13 de diciembre de 2017.
¿Tiene la Canon EOS 80D a la venta? Si es así, ¿cuánto cuesta?

Gracias,
Rob Kiser

Update: This company's website says they have the camera in stock in Panama City, Panama.

Continue reading "Authorized Canon Camera Retailers in Panama City, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 3:37 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Canon Cameras in Panama City

Post on canon cameras for sale in panama city.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 2:39 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 30 [Tue 12/12/17] - Portobelo, Panama - The Paradox of Choice

Day 30 [Tue 12/12/17] - Portobelo, Panama

In the morning, I find myself in a $10 a night hostel Portobelo, Panama. There's lots of things I could do, but it's hard to know what to do, really. This is what's commonly referred to as the Paradox of Choice. It's easier to know what to do if you have a job and a mortgage and people at home that depend on you. It's markedly less obvious what to do if you get on a motorcycle and leave the country on a journey to nowhere.

Juan is a guy that helps out here at the Hostel Portobelo. He fled his native country of Venezuela, and ended up here somehow.

Juan is nice because he's fluent in both English and Spanish, and he helps me with my Spanish, but in a nice, respectful way. He's not condescending about it. Or bitter. Or angry. Or being a jackass like many people are, he just helps me out, and is polite about it.

Continue reading "Day 30 [Tue 12/12/17] - Portobelo, Panama - The Paradox of Choice"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 8:42 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Honduras/Panama Video

I created a short video of my travels in Panama and Honduras. You can download it here.

https://www.expirebox.com/download/5c512adf5bbfab70fb7b5e7cd7991793.html

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 12, 2017 at 6:10 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 11, 2017

Day 29 [Mon 12/11/17] - Portobelo, Panama to Puerto Lindo, Panama

This morning, I get up and my friends are riding to Puerto Lindo, to catch a boat from there. I should have gone with them, but I am not a smart man. I thought I had a reservation with San Blas Cat, but I was mistaken.

So we roll out of town, heading roughly east. They're supposed to be at Puerto Lindo at 8:00 a.m. And the roads are about half wet, because nothing ever dries out down here. Never. So we're pushing through these curving jungled roads, ever closer to Puerto Lindo. After about 12 km and 15 minutes, we roll into town. There's a dirt road down to the beach. We double back and ride down there.

The seas are rough this morning, and we don't see the boat they're expecting. But a man comes walking down the beach, and apologizes that, because of the waves, he'll have to load at a different location in Puerto Lindo.

I'm like....OK....Y'all got this...and I turn back for Portobelo. I know the boat that I will sail on. I know the dock I need to be at. I know what time he loads. He loads at 10:00 a.m.

Continue reading "Day 29 [Mon 12/11/17] - Portobelo, Panama to Puerto Lindo, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 11, 2017 at 12:21 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 10, 2017

Day 25 Photos - Uvisa, Darien Province, Panama

Continue reading "Day 25 Photos - Uvisa, Darien Province, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 10:11 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 24 Photos - Tocumen, Panama to Uvisa, Panama

Continue reading "Day 24 Photos - Tocumen, Panama to Uvisa, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 7:58 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 27 Photos - Torti, Panama to Portobelo, Panama

More photos in extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 27 Photos - Torti, Panama to Portobelo, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 9:18 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 28 [Sun 12/10/17] - Portobelo, Panama

No destination planned.

Today, I wake up in a hostel in Portobelo, Panama. It's a shared room that set me back $10 a night. Ouch. I spread out all of my gear over 2 beds, because I need everythin to dry out. The owner coms to me to complain, and I explain to him that I need the beds to dry out my things and, I can pay for both beds, if necessary.

This is shocking to him. He's apparently never seen such a brash display of wealth.

One of the helpers comes in and offers to bring me a cup of coffee, which I greatfully accept. Con asucar y leche, por favor.

Someone rings the church bells in the town. Stray dogs bark at the challenge. Now there is a service going on, broadcast through that eternal, perpetual, 3rd world speaker. At least this time, I know what they're selling. They're pushing religion on the masses. Only the dogs seem to mind.

The sun comes out. How glad I am to see the sun. I was beginning to question if it still exists.

A smarter person would waterproof their gear, but I am not a smart man.

I update my expenses online. Now, to try to get some photos uploaded. Watching that power line explode yesterday in the rain was absolutely surreal. I wanted to call someone, but I didn't even know who to call.

Photos uploading now from yesterday...

Like...a noise ordinance would go a long way towards making a place like this semi-tolerable.

The rains start again, but quickly stops. I'm thinking that I should go for a ride. It's 10:22 a.m. here. It seems as though I'm somehow wandered from PST to EST. Go figure.

As I'm looking down from the hostel where I'm staying (for $10 a night...ouch), I see 2 motorcycles pull up, and one of them has Colorado plates. I'm like...no freaking way. I've been on the road for 28 days. I rode 6,400 miles to get here. And now, there's another guy here, in Portebelo, with Colorado plates? What are the odds? I have seen very few other motorcyclists doing what I'm doing down here. And yet, here they are....2 guys riding to Ushuia, same as me. One from Virginia. One from Colorado. On Suzuki thumpers. Getting it done.

Over dinner, Ken shows me how to load all of the maps for South America into my Garmin. It takes about 5 minutes. So, that's a big improvement. Also, I start using WhatsApp for the first time.

They stay at the same hostel as me, but they're sailing on a different boat tomorrow. Their boat leaves at 8:00 a.m. Mine sails at 10:00 a.m. So, we'll try to meet up in Colombia once we both get over there, I think. Would be nice to have some people to ride with, for a change.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 10, 2017 at 7:22 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 9, 2017

Harley Riders - A Clarification

Just so we're clear, I have no problem with people that ride Harleys. But, as a general rule, they think that they're better than other riders, and they don't wave at me when I wave at them. 9/10 motorcycle riders will wave back at me when I'm riding and I wave at them. For Harley riders, it's much less than 1 out of 10 that will wave back. Like 1 in 100.

I've also heard them say things like, "Hey man...your bike is leaking something....RICE!", meaning that it was imported from Japan.

So, you know, after a while, it gets old and it wears on you.

Also, MOST Harley riders (but not all), spend their nights focused on how their bike sounds. And they tear out everything put in there at the factory meant to reduce the sound to a tolerable level, and they drill out the baffles, and then roll the thottle like children at a birthday party trying to get attention.

This isn't something that I'm making up. Ask anyone that doesn't ride a Harley, and they'll tell you the same thing. Are all Harley riders this way? No, clearly not. Are most of them this way, certainly, they are. It's why SouthPark did a whole episode on Harley riders.


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 9, 2017 at 5:28 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 8, 2017

Day 26 Photos - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama

Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 26 Photos - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama "

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 11:22 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 27 [Sat 12/09/17] - Torti, Panama to PortoBello, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hostal Portabelo, in Portabelo, Panama.

Hoy es Sabado.

Starting Odometer: 10,835
Ending Odometer: 11,002
Distance Traveled Today: 167 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,399 miles [11,002 - 4,603]


Today my ride will look something like this, however, I'm not clear if I'll stop on Saturday in Tocumen or Panama City. It depends on the weather, as always. Also, I may try to pick up a differnt DSLR camera when I pass through Panama City. The cameras I have are just sort of barely functioning at this point. So, I'd like to pick up a new DSLR, if I can find a camera store in Panama City.

Then, at some point Saturday or Sunday, I need to roll on up to Portobelo, on the Carribbean (Atlantic) side of the country.

And yes, I told someone today that Portobelo was on the Carribbean side, not the Atlantic side today. So, yes, I am that stupid, it seems.

I have already reached out to the people that run the sailboat between Portobelo, Panama and Colombia. This is their website: http://www.sanblascat.com. Basically, what I said was, I want to get on the boat on Monday December 11th. My motorcycle has a curb weight of 500 lbs, and is the coolest motorcycle to have crossed through North, Central, and South America. So, we'll see what they say.

I have some concerns that possibly 1) they'll be all booked up or 2) it will rain so hard this weekend that I'll need to swim to Portobelo or 3) I'll get there and they'll say my bike is 11 pounds over the weight limit or 4) they'll ask why I never paid that ticket I got in Panama or 5) other.

However, if I can't get on the sailboat from Portobelo, then I'll just roll out to the Tocument airport and FedEx the bike down to Colombia, which is essentially what I did last time. (Last time I FedEx'ed the bike back to the USA, but it was pretty simple and straight forward. I could easily do this and FedEx the bike to Colombia, and this is my backup plan. Cost would be roughly the same, and much faster this way, if I'm not mistaken.)

The main reason I'm planning on taking the sailboat through the San Blas islands is because....are you kidding me? Have you seen the freaking San Blas islands???

Continue reading "Day 27 [Sat 12/09/17] - Torti, Panama to PortoBello, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 8:13 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Sin zapato? Donde el gato?!!

Today was really fun, for several reasons.
I never planned on rolling around in Panama for a week. That was never really my intention, I don't think. But also, riding 300 miles a day was so incredibly arduous that I was beginning to question my own sanity.

So, I begged Steve to let me take a week off, and he agreed, provided that I pinky swear not to miss the San Blas Island Tour sailboat that leaves from Portobelo, Panama on Monday. Which I did. So, basically, that meant that I had a week off to tour Panama on a motorcycle during the unseasonably, unreasonably wet December, which is not normally part of the rainy season.

So now, I've spent the last couple of days kind of poking around and peeking around in Panama, and really enjoyed what I've found.

What I found is a birding community, that comes from all over the world, to photograph rare birds. And I'm glad I just happen to have my 100-400mm f/4.0-5.6 IS USM telescopic zoom lens to shoot with.

All afternoon, I was able to relax and shoot the local birds, flowers, dogs and cats. Really a nice day. And then, eventually, I sort of grasp who the hotel owner is, and his mother, and his daughter. And he's fluent in English and Spanish, so he helps me with my Spanish, which is so nice. To have someone help you without being condescending. Someone who truly sees that you're trying, and helps you when you ask for help. Really nice.

And now, his other daughter is in Brazil, but doesn't have the Yellow Fever shot, and there's some nightmare to try to get it all sorted out.

When the darkness pulls in close around us, and all of the other patrons fade from the restaurant, he tells me to just pull my motorcycle into the covered open-air seating section of the restaurant at night so the bike won't be wet in the morning.

This is what you hope to find, I think. Is this jungled canopy with Howler monkeys and parakeets and 64 different flavors of hummingbirds at the feeders, fighting each in a life-or-death struggle over sugar water.

With cats and dogs....gatos and peros de calle...I'm sipping coffee and you just want to sit back and go..."Yep. Nailed it." Like...how could life get any better than this? This is what I hoped to find, I think. Some place, deep in the Latin American jungled canopy where people would accept you in, as one of their own. And welcome you in from the rains of December.

After dinner, I'm sitting at the table, sipping coffee...con leche y asucar, and his mother looks at me, and under my chair, and what I thought I heard her say was 'something or other "el gato" '. So, immediately, I'm like..."DONDE EL GATO???!!"

Like...did you say there was a cat? Where is the cat? I saw some earlier this afternoon...where are they? And they all start laughing, because that's not what she said at all.

What she said was "Sin zapato?" (Meaning...you're not wearing shoes at the dinner table?) And I'm not even clear if I was wearing pants. I'm doing the best I can. I think I was wearing a swimsuit, and was certainly barefoot, at the dinner table.

But then, we're all laughing...3 generations...laughing at or with the gringo loco. Just crazy fun. Really great to be down here, kicking around in the jungle with my new friends.

It looks like, if I'm going to make it up to Panama City in the morning, I'm going to have to get an early start, as it's going to be raining again by noon. For someone who intentionally planned on NOT driving through Central America during the rainy season this time, I sure as hell am getting a lot of rain on this trip.

I wish I were more proficient in Spanish. Basically, I'm operating at the level of a retarded first grader.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 7:42 PM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Day 26 [Fri 12/08/17] - Yaviza, Panama to Torti, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Torti Portal Avicar in Torti, Panama.

Hoy es viernes.

Starting Odometer: 10,752
Ending Odometer: 10,835
Distance Traveled Today: 83 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,232 miles [10,835 - 4,603]

My ride today looked something like this.

I wake up this morning to a pouring rain. I just roll back over and go back to sleep. I'm hoping at some point that the rain will stop. I intentionally did not come here during the rainy season. It's hard to grasp how much it rains down here, but the men coming out of the jungles with dugout canoes full of plantains should be some indication of the rainfall, I suppose.

By 9:30 a.m., it has let up. A man walks through the streets with a cooler in a wheelbarrow calling "Pay-COE,Pay-COE,Pay-COE!"
Update: My friend says he was probably selling pork?

Roosters begin to crow. Do they crow when it stops raining? Who can tell? They seem to crow all day, as best as I can tell.

Eventually, it does stop raining, pretty much any way.

I decide to make a break for it. I will get on my bike and roll out of town. But first, I will stop at one of the stores by the port and see if they have a trash bag to put my CC Filson handbag in. That's all I need to make it waterproof, I think.

I stop at the sign that says it's the end of the Pan American Highway. I try to get people to take my photo with a DSLR, but they really just don't grasp it. I think I'll just have to photoshop this picture.

The road at first is very good. Perfect even, all the way to the edge of the Darien province.

There are many border checkpoints. The first one I come to is a Senafront checkpoint at about 35 miles. Then, at about 65 miles, there's another border checkpoint. This one is at the border of the Darien Province. He points for me to pull over. She asks for my passport. I offer it to them, and tell them I came through 2 days ago. I don't think that they could ever find my name in their notebook, but that's hardly my problem, and they wave me on.

Then, some potholes as soon as I leave the Darien Provice, but the road is still pretty good.

I'm hoping to make it to Panama City today without getting wet, when I pass a little shanty on the side on the road and a sign says Pi Pi Frios. I have no idea what they're selling so I circle back to check. Turns out, it's CoCo Frios, and I have no idea why he called it PiPi frios. It's not my country. I'm just passing through. I rode my bike across a little concrete footbridge to get to the store, and managed to drop my bike for the 3rd time on this adventure. I called for "mi amigo" to come out and help me stand up the bike, and he did and I promise you I could not have stood it up on my own. I managed to get some shots of it this time before we stood it up.

So I take off again. I'm hoping to make it to Panama City without the rains, but just before I make just to the edge of Torti de Chepo when I run into just a wall of rain. Now, I can turn back, or try to make it into what looks like a small town up ahead. I decide to push for it. A service station on the left, and I'm out of the rain. At first, no one is here, then a man shows up, and his son, and then also his business partner it seems.

I talk to them for some time. Always, people are truly shocked to learn that I rode my motorcycle here, alone, over the last month, from Denver, Colorado. Like...it's just extremely rare. No one with half a brain would even try it, I think.

After about an hour or so, the rain lets up, and I decide to try riding again. But it's still raining too hard. Like...I will just be soaked if I try to make it to Panama City today. I loop through the town a few times, trying to make a decision. I see a hotel. And a restaurant. And then I see that the hotel is also a restaurant also, and this is my favorite configuration. This is ideal. This means you can check in and not get wet anymore today. And that's worth something.

He tells me a room is $38.00 USD a night and I'm about to choke. Like...how do you live with yourself? How do you sleep at night, man?

I balk at the rate, but he points to a sign on the wall that says $38.00 a night. So I decide to go for it.

He gives me the password for the Wifi, and in my room, I can't get either the MacBook Air or the iPhone 6S+ to join the network. But I turn on the A/C with the remote, and it's already set to 22C. When I go back in the restaurant, the the iphone and the MacBook Air join the WiFi network with no problem.

There is a "pero calle" here, with both left legs severely injured. I'm tossing him chicken from my plate, and the owner comes and leads him off with a dish of food. I'm not clear what the protocol is on feeding pero calles, but I don't really care either. I'm more concerned with getting caught when they don't approve is all.

Later, he says of the dog, that it was hit by a car. And he took it to the vet, but it was too expensive to fix. He wanted like $800 or something. So he couldn't afford to fix him.

And, I think that coming down this way has pushed me way far out of my normal zeitgeist, so that I'm seeing things I wouldn't normally see in Denver or San Francisco or Los Angeles.

I'm seeing trucks of cows on their way to be butchered. And I ask the guy...."es pero leche o carne asado?" And he laughs and says, "carne asado".

Like....that's not really funny to me. These cows are on their way to die. And this is really the part of it that you miss out on when you're eating out every night in California or Colorado. We're so far removed from our food supply, that you sort of lose focus on where it comes from.

Not like I'm going to turn into a vegan or anything, but it is odd, seeing the food chain with your own eyes.

The roosters seem to crow incessantly. Maybe I should get some roosters when I get home. How cool would that be?

I go down for lunch or dinner...I'm not sure which. It's about 3:00 p.m. I ask the owner where I can find some monkeys. He says he heard the howling this morning. I'm thinking...why on earth was I leaving this place?

I love the coins in Panama. They use US Dollars, but mint their own coins, which are crazy cool with colored flags on them, etc.

The owner of the restaurant said he had to put sugar water out for 8 months to get the hummingbirds to come. Also, he says, with the Howler Monkeys it is the same thing. He has to put plantains out for them, but it takes them a while to catch on.

He points to the trees where they will be in the morning. "They will wake you up," he warns.

He says that, a guy came through here, about a year ago, and went through the Darien Gap with a motorcycle. He says that the guy was alone, and wrote for a motorcycle magazine. And lived in Washington State. At first I thought he might be talking about Dylan Wickrama who used Isaac N Pizzaro as his guide, but now I think that isn't right, because he said the guy came through at the end of last year, or earlier this year. But that wouldn't have been Dylan Wickrama, as he did this in 2014. But this is just what I need....some guy telling me that there's a guide who will take you through the Darien with a motorcycle. Thanks a lot. Thanks for that.

Maybe it was Jason Motlagh?

When I go to take photos with my one still-functioning camera, I realize that both of my lens are freezing cold, and therefore the 100% humidity condenses on them, and I have to wait now at least an hour before I can take any photos. Rookie mistake. I had the same problem in Peru. I used to leave my lenses at the front desk when I checked into my room at night because the condensation is always an issue if the AC is on in the room (and you're in a 100% humidity jungle in the morning).

I take a shower and get cleaned up and then go down for coffee.

The owner speaks to me in Spanish, even though he's perfectly fluent in English, which I greatly appreciate. Like...if I wanted to speak English, I'd be in the USA. When I'm down here, I want to speak in Spanish. When people tell me to speak in English, it makes me want to lose my mind. Like...how about I'll speak in whatever language I choose?

So I'm really happy that he speaks to me in Spanish.

"Uno cafe, por favor," I say.

"Con leche?"

"Si, por favor."

"Y asucar?"

"Si, por favor."

It did quit raining, this afternoon, and I could have easily left and made it to Panama City. But it's so hard to predict these rains. And, when you're soaking wet, I could have sat there and had lunch, with all of my gear on, hoping it quit raining. But it's so much nice to check in, get cleaned up, change clothes, and then go down and eat lunch/dinner when you're dry, not even worried about the rain.

Finally, I got something clarified with my buddy here at the hotel.

I'm like....why in God's name is it raining like this? This is not the rainy season, right?

And he's like, "Right. Normally, the rainy season ends in November, so it is unusual to be getting this much rain at this time of the year. This is very late in the season for it to still be this wet,"

So, I'm not insane. This is an unseasonably wet December for Panama. Great.

Update: I wanted to point out that, so far on this trip, all of the electrical outlets have been the same. The only difference being, occasionally, I'll have a 2 prong outlet (sans ground plug), which would ordinarily prevent me from plugging in my MacBook Air power cord. However, because I have my international adapter, it basically allows me to plug my 3 prong power cord into a 2 prong outlet. So, not a huge deal, but it is somewhat interesting that all of Central America basically uses the same outlets we use, whereas in South America, that is not the case.

Also, I think it's somewhat funny, or oddly amusing that I find Panama so attractive. I haven't been to a nice, secluded white-sand beach (without shanty town shacks on it) in Panama since I got here. But I do like the country. I like that it's so far away from civilization, as it were. That you can fall asleep to the sound of parakeets, and wake up to the sound of Howler Monkeys. That they have special forces guarding the "Fronterra". It's just so far away from San Francisco or Los Angeles or Denver. It's really hard to believe that I'm still on the same planet.

Regarding the Darien Gap:
I'm not going through the Darien Gap. Why? Primarily because my bike is too heavy. I could get a guide, and I could probably make it through the Darien Gap. But I don't want to deal with getting this bike through there. If I drop it, I can't even pick it up. If I had a little Honda CR 125, then maybe I'd try it. But with this bike, I don't think so. I dropped it for the third time today, and I had a hard time picking it up with someone helping me. :P


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 8, 2017 at 12:35 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 7, 2017

Day 25 [Thr 12/07/17] - Yaviza, Panama [Parque Nacional Darién]

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hospedaje Sobia Kiru [Corazon Bueno] in Yaviza, Panama. (I plan to stay here for a 2nd night.)

Update 2: I still don't have WiFi at my hotel, so I can't post photos right now. Will try to catch up on photos when I return from the Darién (dah REE Uhn).

Hoy es Jueves.

Starting Odometer: 10,752
Ending Odometer: 10,752
Distance Traveled Today: 0 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,149 miles [10,752 - 4,603]

All day long, this port is just madness. Insanity.

A woman walks through the street with a parrot. Dogs and chickens walk the street. Two dogs square off in the street in a vicious battle. No one intervenes.

A man explains that the "Cervesa in bota es para Boca de Cupe", so the one 20-30 meter canoe loaded with beer from stem to stern is heading for Boca de Cupe, downstream. (It appears to be upstream on my maps, but what do I know?)

Several canoes are just packed with bananas. He says that the plantains are to be shipped to \panama city in trucks.

He says that the bananas are worth $10 USD for 100 platains, and the boat has 6,000 platains, so the boat has $600 worth of bananas in it, which is a lot of money in this area, I think.

He says this goes on all year long. It never stops. They're cutting bananas from the jungle for free, essentially, and bringing them to port.

The whole time, they're splashing the plantains with water, to keep them fresh. Then, they pack the canoes with other goods on the return voyage.

Cervesa, tanks of propane, mattresses, freezers packed with ice and fresh fish.

Just upriver is a footbridge, where they can cross the river. Also, two pipes cross with the bridge, presumably for water.

Loading and unloading the boats takes some time, and the port is jammed with dugout canoes, so they toss the cargo through the air to load and unload the boats more quickly.

I ask the port authority if they know where they are going, but they don't. There's no paperwork or anything. They just sort of stand watch over the madness, same as me.

Vultures walk the streets.

There is an observation deck, where people come to watch. This is the most busiest place in town, so people do come here to watch, it appears.

A woman comes by. She climbed out of a canoe, apparently. She says that, tomorrow, in Corozal, there is a big party. It's about 1 hour up-river. And she'll be back in an hour.
And I can go with them to the party if I want to.

I explain to the security guards that there are 4-5 americans that are coming here on motorcycles to cross into the Darien. He says it's suicidal. But the other guard disagrees. He says they can make it if they follow a certain route, which he lays out. I dunno.

Now, one of the innermost boats needs to push his way out of the port, so he turns his propeller, and puses the others upriver out of his way, and then escapes backwards.

One of the boats has a propeller that's missing huge chunks out of all three blades.

I go to the edge of town to get my photos with the sign that indicates the end of the PanAmerican highway, but no one really knows how to operate a DSLR. They've never seen one before, it seems.

Yesterday, there were about a dozen Americans on some bid-watching tour taking photos of some birds in the trees. And I had the biggest lens out of all of them. But I should have gotten them to take my photo at the sign. At least they know how to use a DSLR.

I roll through town, filming wiht the GoPro, trying to capture the squalid third world poverty, as I won't remember, and no one would believe me if I did. So the GoPro is sort of an unbiased observer, in effect.

I roll around town and find the gas station that I saw when I rolled into town yesterday. So glad to know that it's there. That means I'll have no trouble escaping the Darien (Dah-REE-uhn) when the time comes. But today is only Thursday. And it seems a little early to be rushing back into civilization. My boat doesn't sail until Monday. So, I think I'll return to Panama City tomorrow (Friday), and then go up to Colon, or wherever it is I'm supposed to be, on Saturday.

Yesterday, I paid the slumlord $30, and she only asked for $25 a night, so I go today and find her and demand she return my change. She acts like she doesn't know what I'm talking about, or understand me, but eventually she give me my $5.00 back. Then, I tell her that I want ot stay another night, but there's no way I can pay $25 a night, obviously. So, I tell her I'll pay $20 a night. She balks, but when I start asking about other hotels, she agrees and takes the $20.

I have A/C, and a shower. There's no hot water, per se, but it's not like you want to take hot showers down here anyway. Any shower is fine. The water doesn't need to be hot.

I walk across the footbridge over the river to the other side, but then, once I get there, I'm not sure what to do so I return. I'd like to get in a boat and go up or down the river, but I'm not really clear how to go about it. There's not like a travel agency here or anything.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 7, 2017 at 8:53 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 6, 2017

Day 24 [Wed 12/06/17] - Tocumen, Panama to Yaviza, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hospedaje Sobia Kiru [Corazon Bueno] in Yaviza, Panama.
Update 2: I don't have WiFi at my hotel, so I can't post photos right now. Will try to post today's photos from Tocumen to Yaviza tomorrow night.

Hoy es Miercoles.

Starting Odometer: 10,581
Ending Odometer: 10,752
Distance Traveled Today: 171 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 6,149 miles [10,752 - 4,603]

0 miles - Panama City, Panama
176 miles - Yaviza, Panama (4h:10m)

My ride today looks something like this.

Forecast: Rain. Everywhere. Mostly in the afternoon. So I need to get riding.

Before I run from here [Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama]...

Just a few notes before I dash for the day. This place...the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama is decadant. This is what you hope to find, on the road, IMHO. The hotel is not on the beach. It's inland a few kilometers. But it is decadent. A jungled landscape with orchids y gatos. Giant chess set. A waterfall and a swim-up bar. The beds have thick plush blankets and waterfall showerheads. So different than most of the places that I've stayd on this journey where I'm just usually balking at paying more that $25 USD a night.

I've spent so much time running on this trip, from one paradise to the next, that it's hard to keep it all straight in my head. It was really fun to roll into Panama City and recognize the skyline and find the same hotel I stayed at last time without a map or having to google or anything.

There was a stray black and white cat here last night, and I begged the kitchen to give him some food..."la comida basura es perfecto, por favor" Finally, they gave me some grilled bananas for the cat. He wasn't sure about the choice of entree.

At the "free" continental breakfast", I'm talking to the waitress [in my broken spanish] and she asks me if I'm from Brazil. And I'm like....no...de los estados unidas. Like...how cool is that to be traveling abroad and have someone guess that you're from Brazil?

One of my cameras is solidly broken. One of the Canon EOS 50D's has given up the ghost. I searched Craigslist for Panama and see nothing out there. So, I'm not clear what the solution is at this point. Buy a new cameras in Panama City, or maybe check Craigslist in Colombia and see if anyone has an EOS 50D for sale there?

Also, since I'm in Panama, every sucker I see is breaking $50 bills for me because you need more US currency. When you're tipping people at the border, every country on earth takes USD, and you don't have to calculator to figure out how bad you're getting ripped off when he asks you for $2,000 colones, or 50 cordobas, or 27 quetzals, or 17 pesos. You know how much $5 USD is. Hand him a fiver and go on with your day. Genius.

Every morning, I'm chasing currencies out of my wallet from some country I'll never see again. Imagine if, every other day, you had to start over with a new currency. That's literally what I'm doing. So, basically, the exchange rate for your currency changes every other day. And then, out with the old, in with the new. I stick the old money in my money belt, and move on. At some point, I need to FedEx all of this back to the USA so I don't go to prison when I try to come back into the country.


So, every tiime I gas up, stop for a snack, etc, I've got them breaking $50 bills for me like an afternoon rainstorm. Speaking of...I'd better get moving.

Diatribe continues in the extended entry...

Continue reading "Day 24 [Wed 12/06/17] - Tocumen, Panama to Yaviza, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 6, 2017 at 7:10 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

Mea Culpa

Mea culpa. I just checked my "Manage Comments" section of Peenie Wallie, and there were some unapproved comments in there. I really haven't done much with this website over the last 2 years as I've bounced back and forth between Colorado and Kalifornia like a ping pong ball in a dryer and I forgot that I need to be monitoring the comments.

So, I apologize to those of you that posted comments that didn't appear. Mea culpa. All comments have been approved as of this morning.

Muchas gracias.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 6, 2017 at 7:03 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 5, 2017

Day 23 Photos


Continue reading "Day 23 Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 5, 2017 at 8:10 PM : Comments (3) | Permalink

December 4, 2017

Day 22 Photos

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 8:46 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 21 Photos

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 21 Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 7:59 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 23 [Tue 12/05/17] - Paso Canoas, Panama to Panama City, Panama

Update: I am alive and well, having dinner and drinks at the swim-up-bar at the Riande Aeropuerto Hotel & Casino in Tocumen, Panama. (This is the same place I stayed last time I was down this way. I remembered this hotel...I was like...uh...yeah...I'm going back there again.)

Starting Odometer: 10,235
Ending Odometer: 10,581
Distance Traveled Today: 346 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,978 miles [10,581 - 4,603]


0 miles - Paso Canoas, Panama
152 miles - Santiago, Panama (3h:11m)
156 miles - Panama City, Panama (3h:14m) 308 miles

My ride today looks something like this.
Expenses from yesterday (December 3rd)

So, I wake up this morning in Paso Canoas, Panama. I did a good job last night of getting all of my tasks done. Like, every night, I have a series of tasks I have to do:

Daily Evening tasks:
O Record odometer on motorcycle.
O Take a shower.
O Wash clothes in the sink.
O Copy videos off of GoPro Hero 5.
O Archive tracks on Garmin Montana.
O Log expenses.
O Copy photos off of cameras onto laptop. Upload photos to website.
O Plan ride for tomorrow.
O Clean GoPro camera.
O Charge Canon EOS 50D batteries.
O Charge iPhone 6S+.
O Charge MacBook Air.
O Charge GoPro Hero 5.
O Charge Garmin Montana 600.


Daily Morning tasks:
O Oil chain in the parking lot.
O Clean mirrors, windshield, and digital instrument cluster on 2017 Honda Africa Twin.
O Gas up bike.
O Set trip meters.
O Log mileage, volume, cost.
O Program 1st destination into Waze.

So, what I've discovered is that, the more I get done at night, before I go to sleep, the less work I have to do in the morning.
It's a whole self-discipline thing. And, I pretty much have no self-discipline. And I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in that. But I
like that the adventure makes me more disciplined. Puts a structure/framework around my day. If I'm at home, I just sort of
drift in and out of consciousness, surfing the internet and watching netflix.

But on this adventure, there's no time for that. Zero. Nada. Every day, I'm riding all day, and then doing chores the rest of the
day, and for this, I am thankful. It's the best thing about the trip...that it wakes me up and makes me focus on a set of tasks
all day long, every day.

[Diatribe continues in the extended entry...]

Continue reading "Day 23 [Tue 12/05/17] - Paso Canoas, Panama to Panama City, Panama"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 5:16 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 22 [Mon 12/04/17] - Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica to Paso Canoas, Panama

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully along the PanAmerican Highway in the Hotel Hocedaje in San Isidro, Panama on the border (frontera) with Paso Canoas, Panama.

Starting Odometer: 10,105
Ending Odometer: 10,235
Distance Traveled Today: 130 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,632 miles [10,235 - 4,603]

0 miles - Dominical, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica
95 miles - Paso Canoas, Puntarenas Province, Costa Rica (2:12) 95 miles
5 miles -Border Station Terpel, Panama (0:10) 100 miles

My ride today looks something like this.

So I wake up in the morning, and I'm having some issues with my internet, so I don't get my photos posted for the day. Finally, I just give up and take off. Once again, I leave crazy late, and once again, when I get up, I see that the hotel has spectacular views, that no one would guess when they stop for the night.

So now, I running down the road in Costa Rica. Always, the roads in Costa Rica were very nice, but as I get closer to the border, they get worse and worse. Also, Costa Rica seems to decline as well, now with people living in tin shacks on the side of the road.

When I come to the border with Panama, it's kind of funny because I remember this place. Or maybe I remember the photos of it. But you get the idea. I definitely recognize the buildings on both sides of the border...Costa Rica and Panama.

I hate that I always have to go through this process in the heat of the day. The ideal way to do this would be in the early morning, when it's cooler.

Today, I get through the Costa Rica side of the border with no problems. Always it's easier to get out than it is to get in to the next country.

Now, my handler takes me to get copies, and we're standing at the copy store, and I'm just screaming at my handler that I already have copies.

"No necessito copias. Tengo copias." And, I'm not clear if he thinks I'm an idiot, or what. But I show him that I already have copies, and I'm not paying for more copies. It's very frustrating for me when they don't get what I'm saying, and I'm saying it in their language. Very frustrating.

Eventually, I get through Immigracion and Aduana for both countries. This time, I took notes on how long it took me. I got to the border at 12:50. And I was cleared to enter Panama at 2:48 p.m. So, it took me almost exactly 2 hours to cross the border, which is not bad.

But it's just so hot and miserable. I took off all of my motorcycle gear this time, so I wasn't quite as hot, but it's still just sweltering. And I'm just sweating like a whore in church for 2 hours. It's not fun.

One guy comes rolling up on a KTM with Pennsylvania plates, and I rush over and introduce myself. He's basically on the same track as me, I think. His name is Dan. He said he was from outside of Philadelphia, but I forget where.

I tell him that he's passed Immigracion and Aduana for Costa Rica, and he'll have to go back, and then I take off for Boca Chica. However, I get about 10 miles into Panama, and there's this huge thunderstorm ahead. Once it starts raining on me, I turn around and race back to the border, and get a hotel room on the Panama side of the border for the night.

The funny thing is that Panama has a little border checkpoint just this side of the border, and they asked me (as I'm heading back towards the border with Costa Rica)..."You're not going back into Costa Rica, are you?" And I'm like...no...of course not...why would I?

I check into my hotel ($25 a night seems like a lot), and then I ask her where to go for dinner. And she hands me a menu and asks if I want "Peeza" and finally I realize she thinks I want to order pizza. And I'm like....I want to eat what the locals eat. I don't want to get pizza. I can get that in the USA.

So, finally, she tells me to go to the frontera.

So I ride my motorcycle across a little concrete bridge between the two lanes of traffic between the frontera and the little checkpoint set up in Panama and roll back into town.

Once I get back to the frontera (border), I see that there is a road on each side of the border that goes south through the town, so that, at any point, you can walk across, or ride your motorcycle across a dirt path 8 meters long, and go from one country to the other. Pretty funny, really. So that's why they have the little border checkpoint on the Panama side. Because, you could easily cross into Costa Rica without clearing Immigracion or Aduana.

I stop and eat a chicken dinner with rice and beans in the madness that is the frontera.

The people that own the restaurant (really a more of a shack than a restaurant), but they notice my L.A.M.A. sticker on the bike and start taking photos of it.

"You are in the L.A.M.A.?" he asks in broken english.

"Mi amigos en the L.A.M.A. gave me that sticker. I rode with the in Nicaragua," I reply.

He starts taking photos and comments that he has friends in the L.A.M.A. That sticker carries a lot of weight down here, apparently. Who knew?

Then, it starts to rain again. Great. I didn't even think of that. I'm not a smart man.

So I've decided that I need to start watching the weather forecasts because that's 2 days in a row I've been rained on. And, it is not the rainy season, technically, but you don't look at the foliage down here and wonder if it rains a lot. Costa Rica has the densest jungles I've ever seen, so they get a lot of rain. There's no doubt about that.

I check the forecast for tomorrow, and it shows it's supposed to rain every day for the rest of the week. Great. But it looks like they are sort of spotty afternoon thunderstorms. So, I'll try to get an early start in the morning and see if I can get in a decent ride tomorrow.

Also, I caught myself riding today without food or drinks on the bike, which is against my rules. So I'll stock up in the morning before I hit the road.


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 4, 2017 at 8:13 AM : Comments (2) | Permalink

December 3, 2017

Day 21 [Sun 12/03/17] - La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica to Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully at the Rio Lindo hotel in Dominical, Puntarenas, Costa Rica.

Starting Odometer: 9,857
Ending Odometer: 10,105
Distance Traveled Today: 248 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,502 miles [10,105 - 4,603]

0 miles - La Cruz, Costa Rica
118 miles - Punta Arenas, Costa Rica (2:49) 118 miles
110 miles - Dominical,Puntarenas, Costa Rica (2:50) 228 miles


My ride today looks something like this.

So Steve, it looks like I'll miss the ferry tomorrow, and then catch one the following Monday, which isn't ideal, but it is what it is. So I'll plan on spending a couple of days in Costa Rica and catching the ferry from Panama to Colombia on Monday December 10th, I think? Also, I'd like to ride down to the end of the PanAmerican Highway and get my photo taken at the Darien Gap. I think that there's a sign that says "End of the Panamerican Highway".

What's funny is that, if I'm not mistaken, now I'm on the same path that I took last time I was down this way, which is kinda fun. Seeing what (if anything) I remember from the ride in back in June of 2013. That was almost exactly 4 1/2 years ago. Man how the time flies. How does it get by us so that, suddenly, you look around and think...Man I haven't been to Costa Rica in a LONG time?

I archived my current track (again) on my Garmin Montana 600. I'm not really clear what this does, but it did create a second archive in my GPS dated 12/3/2017. So now, I have two archived tracks: 12/2 and 12/3. Woohoo!

OK. So, I entered my expenses from yesterday, archived my tracks, copied over my video from the GoPro. Planned my ride for the day. Now, I'll oil my chain in the parking lot, gas up, and head down to check out the ocean. Honestly, I kind of miss it as I've been in the jungles, mountains, and plains for several days now. Kinda miss the beach.

In the morning, I walk out and look at the view, and it's just staggering. Breathtaking. I'm looking out over this bay off of the Pacific Ocean. At night, you couldn't see this, of course. So I had no idea of the view that I was missing. But in the morning, people are eating breakfast or lunch, looking out at the stunning views of the Nicoya Gulf. Breathtaking. I decide that I have to drive down there, so I drive down to the beach. Then, I turn around and come back, gas up, and get out of town.

Now, I'm rolling south and east, basically following the coast. The roads are just amazing down here. There aren't words. It's as if Costa Rica got up this morning and repaved all of their roads in 12" thick asphalt, just to make me happy. Really a welcome change.

Also, there are signs that indicate when a store has an ATM. What a concept. I know, right? Shocking. You can imagine my surprise. Almost like a civilized society.

So I'm just following Waze. Working my way down the coast. There's one place that I remember from last time. I stopped went down to the beach, and the guys down there offered to take me out in a boat. So, I got in a boat with them and we went out into the Nicoya Gulf. It was beautiful. I'd like to find that little fishing village/cove that we left form. And I think it was near Jaco.

But first, I've planned a little excursion out on this peninsula to Punta Arenas. It's a pretty cool little peninsula that just out into the Nicoya Gulf. It appears that it used to have rail service, also. I get out to the end and stop for a snow cone. Delicioso.

Then, I get back to the coast, and am rolling south, when I come to what I think is the same beach from last time. I roll my bike down onto the beach, and promptly get stuck. I have to ask the guy to come over and help push me out.

But I get the bike back on solid ground, and then I walk around. I'm pretty sure that this is the same place that I stopped last time. If not, then it looks nearly identical, anyway. It's exactly as I remembered.

Now, I get back on my bike and take off. I'm trying to ride 250 miles today.

I've re-arranged my camera equipment today, so that I'm riding with both cameras out, but they're on the harness now, instead of around my neck, which is safer, I think.

I'm rolling south, and south east. Pretty much all day long.

Some things I notice about Costa Rica:

1) There pretty much are no speed bumps any more, which is nice.

2) People have fences now. In the last few countries I went through, they would just tie a rope around the cow's/horse's neck, and let them graze on the shoulder. Plant crops in the median, etc. But here, in Costa Rica, is the first time I've really seen what I'd call "ranches", where people put up fences and graze livestock.

3) The roads are so much nicer I want to stop and kiss the asphalt.

4) I really don't see nearly the military/police presence that I've seen in the other countries

5) I saw a radar gun in use today for the first time on this trip through Central America.

In Punta Arenas, I gas up again. It's going to be dark before I get to Uvita, I think. Also, at the end of the day, it's threatening to rain.

I'm just running through this massive banana plantation for miles and miles. Like...how many bananas does one planet need? Seriously?

Now, it starts to rain. Then it stops again. But there's not much daylight left. I'm not clear that I'm going to make it to Uvita. I'm running like 80 mph and it's trying to rain. This is not good. The sun has set. And I come to this little hotel on the side of the road that says Rio Lindo Hotel. I check in and, and I'm bringing my gear in off of the bike, it starts to rain. I dodged a bullet tonight.

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 3, 2017 at 7:20 AM : Comments (1) | Permalink

December 2, 2017

Day 20 Photos

More photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 20 Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 9:55 PM : Comments (4) | Permalink

Day 18 Photos

Note: Releasing these photos a couple of days late due to internet issues.

Additional photos in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Day 18 Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 7:34 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 20 [Sat 12/02/17] - Sébaco, Nicaragua to La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel Punta Descartes in La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Starting Odometer: 9,697
Ending Odometer: 9,857
Distance Traveled Today: 160 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,254 miles [9,857 - 4,603]

0 miles - Sébaco, Nicaragua (2h 30 mins) 0 miles
136 miles - Sapoa, Nicaragua (3h 29mins) 136 miles
15 miles - La Cruz, Costa Rica (30 mins) 151 miles

My route today looks something like this.

In the morning, I get up and check out and roll out of Sebaco, Nicaragua. My plan today is to roll south and cross the border into Costa Rica.

So I'm rolling out of town going south on Nicaragua's Highway 1. Nice roads. Just rolling south, and then when I stop to take some photos of my bike with the Nicaragua Highway 1 sign, 3 bikes come blowing by, and 2 of them are Harleys. And they wave. I'm like...stunned. Shocked.

Like...let's be clear here.... People in the United States that ride Harleys are royal jackasses, and I hate them so much there aren't words. I had assumed that owning a Harley caused some sort of defect in the human brain that made it impossible to communicate with other humans that ride on non-Harley motorcycles. But here these two guys are. There were 3 bikes that came by, but it was 2 harleys, and they were just passing a local rider, it seems. So...2 harley riders. And, like...I promise you that I have not seen any harleys down here. They're as rare as hen's teeth.

Continue reading "Day 20 [Sat 12/02/17] - Sébaco, Nicaragua to La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 9:15 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Copying Files off of Garmin Montana

Only now does it dawn on me that I don't currently have any software installed on my MacBook Air to read the .gpx tracks off of my Garmin Monana. Brilliant.

I always used EasyGPS before, but that was when I was at home on my home server running Windows 7. Now, I'm on the road, running a MacBook air with OSX or something, and EasyGPS doesn't work on a Mac. Great. So....how to copy my tracks off of my Garmin?

Hmmm. I tried installing some software called LoadMyTracks, but it doesn't appear to be working. Great.

I'll start by archiving my current tracks: 2017-12-02 08:53:56. Then, it asked me to clear or cancel, and I hit cancel on the garmin. So, now I do see an archived track out there named 2017-12-02 08:53:56. Not clear how this helps me any,


Posted by Rob Kiser on December 2, 2017 at 7:55 AM : Comments (0) | Permalink

December 1, 2017

Day 19 Photos

More photos in the Extended Entry.

Continue reading "Day 19 Photos"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2017 at 9:19 PM : Comments (0) | Permalink

Day 19 [Fri 12/01/17] - Tegucigalpa, Honduras to Sébaco, Nicaragua

Update: I am alive and well and resting peacefully in the Hotel San Jose in Sébaco, Honduras.

Starting Odometer: 9,512
Ending Odometer: 9,697
Distance Traveled Today: 185 miles
Distance Traveled This Trip: 5,094 miles [9,697 - 4,603]

0 Tegucigalpa, Honduras (5h 48m)
60 miles - Danli, Honduras (1h 47 mins) (60 miles)
27 miles - Dipilito, Nicaragua (51 mins) (87 miles)
84 miles - Sébaco, Nicaragua (2h 30 mins) (171 miles)

My trip today looks something like this. Note: I can not get this map to work and I'm tired of fucking with it. The map doesn't work. I 'm not clear why.

In the morning, I get up and my friends said they would come by for breakfast at 8:00 a.m.

So I start doing my expenses, getting ready for when they show up. But they don't show up and they don't show up and now, I'm starting to get concerned.

I really dodged a bullet yesterday. It's a miracle I wasn't killed in the 2017 Honduras Revolution.

What I want to do is get up early, before the protestors get organized, and get the hell out of the country, while some of them are stil in bed.

Finally, at about 8:30 a.m., I decide that's what I'm doing. I don't know what room number my new friends are in, so I just get up and load up the bike, getting ready to leave.

At some point, my new buddy shows up and he's like..."You're leaving us?"

"Dude...I really don't eat breakfast, and this place is on the verge of a violent revolution. This is no time to be sight-seeing. Y'all can do whatever you want. I'm heading for the border."

Continue reading "Day 19 [Fri 12/01/17] - Tegucigalpa, Honduras to Sébaco, Nicaragua"

Posted by Rob Kiser on December 1, 2017 at 6:52 AM : Comments (3) | Permalink