Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Puerto Angel -Oaxaca, Mexico

Little churches dot the landscape in pretty much every community. They are the nicest structure in every town which I'm sure make the locals very proud.
This giant church was under restoration, on the horizon it looked like a castle or a fortress.

A mare and its foll standing on the ridge with a rainbow in the background which is faint in the photo, but, was brilliant in real life.

The brewmaster, he didn't want his picture taken until I said it was for the women in Canada, then he emerged....but slowly.

Huge vats with all the mashed husks of the (pina de something). See the 5 gallon buckets....yeah....that gets pailed into a cooker and then bottled. The smell was kinda nasty, but I'm sure that I'll enjoy the drink someday back in Canada reflecting on my journey.

This big stone wheel is drawn by Torro's (bulls) round and round to crush the roasted Agave ("pina", pine something). The mash is then transferred to huge wooden vats and left to ferment before the next step in the process.

A fire pit where the "pina de something" is roasted to make the ingredients for Mezcal. The guy had a stack of wood that would keep a house in Canada warm all winter.

I crossed several different climates in one day which ranged from tropical coast and palms, to Pine trees and than into a decidious forest and finally into an arid grassland and then back into the pines. I loved the smell of the pines, its been a long time since I last smelled that distinct aroma.

Curvy roads and Tope's kept me on edge all day. Although I needed only to go 265km it took all day and I was riding like a maniac leaning it way over and really testing my motorcycling ability. After 7 hours it just begins to seem normal to hang it out there. Infact At one point I ran over so many tope's in a short time and the road was so twisty with perfect asphalt that I noticed that I was getting motion sickness.....weird.

Just up the hill from Puerto Angel this town was blasting music in the streets and decorating the town for some reason. People here like to enjoy life and get to know everyone in their community. In my communtity....errr I should rephrase that to ...In the city where I inhabit in order to go to work, I don't even know who my neighbors are and when I do say hello they think I'm a weirdo. Here everyone says hello, everyone is happy.

I awoke after a deep sleep in my Comfort Inn bed and decided that it was time to get my paper work completed. I followed the hand drawn map to the Aduana perfectly and got the bike officially entered into Mexico.

As I don't have a guide book for Mexico I am completely lost with only a road map showing me where to go in order to travel north. I managed to motorcycle all day on really straight boring highway for about 500 km along Ruta 200, at which point the road begins to head along the coast at Salina Cruz. From here the road was narrow and twisty with amazing views of the coast line.

By this point of the day I had been on the bike for 7 hours and I was getting tired. I knew of a beach town 200km further up the coast from Salina Cruz and now that I'm far enough north to enjoy extended day light hours I decided to push for Puerto Angel on the advice of Max and Chris who were surfer dudes in El Tunco.

I arrived in Puerto Angel in the dark and quickly found accomidations and headed out on foot in the rain. The rain was no bother as I had been in the rain more or less all day anyhow and I was hungry and looking for something typical to eat from the region other than Domino's Pizza.

I found a series of small stands selling "Comida Typical" (typical food) which served taco's, enchalada's, Etc. I waited in line and met a couple of German dudes standing there waiting for some grub as well. The local's form a deep human wall around the food counter and don't leave for any reason. They werent really buying food or anything, just huddling and carrying on the conversation of the day. Thus, for me to order food I had to yell over the heads of the little brown people to get what I needed. In about 15 minutes I had my taco's filled with beef, and chicken. The food was excellent and well worth the wait.

In the morning I headed out along the beautiful beach at Puerto Angel. This place was so amazing but, alas, I forgot my camera so only I can enjoy the memories of this special place. After walking along the beach, along the seawall, and after breakfast overlooking a beautiful bay I decided that it was time to move on. The day was shaping up to be a lazy day hiding from rain indoors breathing moldy air so I donned the moto gear and pulled outta town up Ruta 175 to Oaxaca.

The road acended steeply from sea level to 3000 meters and the air turned really cold. I pierced into the clouds and had very poor visibily at times with only 10 meters of foresight. According to the map, Oaxaca was only 265km away. The time to get to Oaxaca took more than 8 hours as the road had hundreas of Tope's (freaking huge speed bumps) and the twisty road kept my average speed somewhere around 35km/hr. The road was exhausting and the number of Tope's was ridiculious. I figure that I ran over 7-10 bumps per town, every 5 minutes for 10 hours which I can honestly say lands me rougly with 840 bumps and 4000 gear shifts. My left hand is so sore from clutching that at the end of the day my hand was merely a claw.

Just before Oaxaca I saw a little house like structure on the side of the road which was actually a fermentation building for Mezcal. (Mexico's unique drink to Oaxaca made from Agave plant and with a worm in the bottle). I stopped in and took a tour of the Hombre's place and got him to explain as much as he could to me as I thought the process was really interesting. In the end I bought a 1 litre water bottle full of the stuff and I'll try and bring it home. I'm pretty sure if I tell the Customs official that It's gasoline they'll belive me!!!

Arriving in Oaxaca I had no Guide book and the road proceeded into a political blockade of the highway. I was forced to ride along a detour through traffic jammed streets and weave my way through cars, trucks, motorcycles, pedestrians, dogs, chicken, pigs, etc., for an hour moving like the Flintstones dabbling along while making way through past hundreds of cars in gridlock.

As I have no book I had no idea what Oaxaca was all about and seeing the traffic and the crowdedness I headed out a toll road which was beautiful. It swept along the mountains where there were no inhabitants to scar the landscape. The scenery was amazing! Finally that night I bedded down in a smaller town called Nochixtlan and checked into Hotel Del Carmen where Luis made sure that I was comfortable for the night.

Before I headed up to the room I explained to Luis that I was happy to find a good hotel as I did'nt like the "love Motels" He agreed that I'd be ok here and upon entering my room I laid down on the bed and realised that the bed was plastic........arghhhhhh! Oh well, The place was clean and I hunkered down anyhow with the sound of people coming in and out all night.
Looking at the map I guess I'll head back to the coast to Ruta 200 where I think the road will have less tope's and make my way northwest from here. I looked on my GPS where I was relative to Canada longitudinally and I'm right at Winnipeg.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Deeee!-renched in Mexico

A snapshot down a busy market street just north of Lago Atitlan in a town called Escuintla

The mountains are heavily planted here making for scenic mosaics in all directions. The plantation areas make up the watershed which feeds Lago Atitlans water supply. The government has been subsidizing fertilizers which now have been leeching their way with every rainfall down the drainage basin and in the lake. The people who live on the lake and have just always flushed their human waste and washed their clothes with soap in the lake sum this problem up as supernatural. This year has been the 1st appearance of algae in the lake which was considered the most beautiful lake in the world. The locals blame the algae problem not on human causes but rather consider it as an act of GOD!

A colorfully decorated church entrance located in a town just around the corner from San Pedro on the way out of town towards the CA1.

A shot of Fort St. John's newest snow making recruit. After my 15 minute monologue over a game of pool using Central americas best pool table I think I have Ryan (from Australia) convinced to become more than just your average flake.

Ahhh, Breakfast served up Guatemalan style, Actually its prepared in Guatemala but this cheeko Malo is down right Americana with a twist.

I pulled out of Yo Mama's Place early this morning and made my way around the rest of Lago Atitlan a little more alert and slightly more timid than usual after thursday afternoons incident. The hill climbing was epic heading northward around the lake and the elevation peaked out somewhere at about 2800 meters. The early hour made for misty views and cloud shrouded beautiful mountains that surround the entire lake.

In the last two days I really didn't get up to anything very eventful, however I made alot of new friends who were staying at the hostal. Infact, one fellow from Austrailia named Ryan mentioned that he wanted to head to Canada and put his nose to the grind stone and work the oil fields. After about a 15 minute monologue I had him signed up and possibly one of 2010's newest snowmakers in Fort St. John.

Alas, the time spent at Yo Mama's Place soon came to a head and it was time to head out as usual, with a few new friends (alot of Canadians actually) and some pretty good memories of interesting folks.

My aim for the day was to get as close to the Mexican border as possible and cross in the morning. The roads leading up to the fronterra were so good and new that the going was fast, easy and fun! Along route I stopped several times to photograph the terraced land planted with all sorts of crops which made for quite a scenic mosaic. Just then, I saw a BMW whiz by so I waved them down and met John and Sharan. They were riding two up on a big GS 1200 and riding for a Charity. I warned them about the back entrance to Lago Atitlan, the next stop for them, and they replied that they already knew about it! Man how was I so outta the loop?

I remounted the machine and I took off on what I believed to be the CA1 and rode through small villages, tiny streets with no signs........ (just follow the path most travelled and you'll get there), and finally after about 1 1/2 hours I popped out on a road that was signed the CA1. Its so weird how easily you can get off track here.

I was kind of nervous about the border crossing back into Mexico but the whole process was over in about 45 minutes for both borders. That being said I did have to find accomidation in the border town because I was unaware that I crossed a time zone, so, after I drove around for 45 minutes looking for the importation office some 20km from the border I had to return back to Aduana (customs) for better directions. On retuning the girl elaborated on her statement "its only 20km from here up the road on the right" .... to "Drive 10km hang a right at the exit that says 'Vida Mexico' and drive 5 km down that road and hang another right into an office complex on your right. (she even drew me a map with bridges, speed bumps and intersections). It is integral that you realise that on the road which I drove 20km, there were 5 unmarked turnoffs and 2 main turnoffs and at exactly at 21 km there is a city in which I'm staying in tonight called Tapachula.
After all the driving around nonsense it was well past closing time for the importation office and the time was going on 5pm. To add insult to injury, the skies darkened, and thunder and lightening began to streak across the dark looming skies. The environment was becoming a scene which I am familiar with from my riding through Brasil and before I could don my rain gear the rain began beating down. Again the highway became covered in deep water with occasional brown water flowing across the highway filled with sediment. Some cars simply pulled off the road to wait the cloud burst out. I however cannot just stop and get drenched, so, I opt for picking up the speed and letting the windshield do its work to blow the rain up and over me.
I finally got back to Tapachula after getting my directions sorted out for the morning. I began making my way through the flooded streets and down poring rain following the occasional sinage the city centre where I reckoned that I'd have a better selection for accomidations, hotels, what have you. Alas, my plan was redirected, literally, when I tried to cross a raging river that was flowing through a city intersection. The water was flowing so fast that when I entered the water caused the front wheel to steer and slip. Before I knew it I was no longer perpendicular to the flow but now driving with the brakes on tring to slow the bike as I was being swept down a sloping paved hill in water up to the engine crankcase. Actually the water was building up on the back of the bikes boxes. Actually, as I was driving through potholes I could hear the exhaust get muffled everyonce and a while as the exhaust port became submerged. I had to think quick so I wondered what Matt Fitz would do.
I began looking for an eddy in the river banks formed by brick buildings loathe and behold, up ahead at a 4 way intersection I saw my opportunity and tucked myself behind a building but not without a fight to keep the bike up right in in the direction I wanted to go. Alas, I had to return from where I came from and made it back to the edge of town where I checked into the Comfort Inn and ordered Domino's pizza....heh heh heh!
For the last couple of nights my "new friends" from Yo Mama's have kept me up late with the party atmosphere common to certain hostals. Even when I opted to hit the sac early I was awoken from 2am until about 4:30 and then again at 5:30 when someone else was getting up to catch a bus. (the party does'nt end after you come home from the bar at 2 am when you're 20 you know)!! So a good nights sleep without constant bugs dining on exposed skin will absolutely do me well for my ride up the pacific coast of Mexico in the morning.
See "The River Rider"

Friday, June 25, 2010

Only A Matter of Time, Guatemala

Guatemala has some big trees, After passing dozens I decided to finally stop at this old fella.

Mario with the gun seemed to like pointing the barrel at my knees, Alas, after this long, looking into gun barrels and having guns pointed at various body parts almost seems normal now.
The infamous slow let down fall over. I tried to keeper up right but, alas, she was too heavey and I let it down easy and got some bystanders to help a brother out with the lift now that I'm as weak as Pete Wedge.

All along the coast the last storm named IDA flexed its muscles and took several bridges out making for many detours and river runs.

Paper pushers forming a wall around the window at Guatemala. If you want through you gotta go through these guys first. I managed for 5 bucks.-
Its been a bit of a tough ride through Central America riding solo thus far. It seemed that on the way down everything was smooth and easy. The way back has been challenging despite the near perfect roads, which occasionally have a washed out bridge to contend with. I've had to make a few detours but I still have been able to get to where I wanted to go with little troubles.

Yesterday was a day that I won't soon forget. First of all I crossed into Guatemala and began making my way to Lago Atitlan where Julie and I visited on the way down. Along the way while passing through a small village a truck slammed on its brakes and I had to stop quickly as well. I planted my feet on the asphalt off balance and had the infamous slow motion fall over trying with all my might to hold the bike up. Alas, the machine was too much so I had to lay it down. As I am in no shape to wrestle with the fully loaded bike I simply waited for someone to come along and help me. Down here there are alway people willing to help a guy with a big motorcycle.

After the fall over episode I rode my way up to Lago Atitlan through Santiago and took the back way into San Pedro. This is apparently the dangerous way in and on a short dirt road section just before the asphalt began again some dude jumped out in front of me with a hand gun and a black balaclava touting a machette. The hill was was climbing at that moment was super steep so I was in 1st gear trying to maintain balance. Then the bandito jerk pushes me and the bike over and begins demanding cash. I was being pretty cool about the whole situation but the machette was being pointed at me more than the gun was and the thought of getting slashed was on my mind. I opened up my fake wallet and pulled out the evuivalent to 80 dollars and handed only the cash over. He started asking for my camera, my GPS, and my passport....I was like yeah right asshole!
He began cutting my bungee cords and taking my tent and therma rest. All this time I was trying to lift the bike and asking the guy to help me with the bike. He just stood there looking at me perplexed as I was heaving on the bike with all my might. Finally after about 2 minutes of me yelling to him to help me lift the god damn bike he stopped pretending to slash me and ran off into the coffee bushes just as an old man with two little kids and a dog appeared. He probably knew the man and didn't want to get exposed. The old man helped me with the lift and roughly 30 seconds later the police truck that was chasing me for passing (again) in the last town appeared. They were ticked off at me until I popped my helmet off covered in sweat and began telling them that I had just been robbed.
At this statement they jumped out of the truck and 2 of the three police men ran with me into the coffee plantation. I was running after the man in his general direction until it dawned on me that I was chasing a man with a gun and a machette and I was way ahead of the police who might mistake me for the bandito in the thick brush. At this notion I returned to the road and gave a small statement to the police man looking after the bike. He asked why I passed them in the town and I said it was because I had a fast motorcycle. He liked the response and a conversation about the bike commenced before I left.
I Finally made it into San Pedro only 2 km further just before dark and found a hostal called "Yo Mama's Place!" I had a few beers and told my story to a few people who seemed shocked that I did'nt loose everything and that I didn't give the man all what he was asking for. But I say frig him!! He was a 25 years oldish punk who got away with 80 bucks. I had such aweful thoughts last night and began negotiation for a gun with a man that said he'd hook me up in Guatemala city to return in the morning to rid the area of a vermin who preys on motorcyclists apparently. I was told that I was the second guy with a touring bike this month! Alas, after sleeping, the beer stopped talking and I decided to sum the whole experience into a good story to tell the grand kids.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

El Salvadors Best Wave, El Tunco

This bicycle had a T.V and a cooler on the back rack. Man this guy really knows how to Roll!
My guy at the Honduras border with his family that accompanies him here everyday. Aside from his wife and child he had his entire extended family here as well, mother, father, brothers, uncles, etc. They run the whole food catering, paper pushing mafia. Had I paid the asking price up front I would have been through in 5 I was promised! Instead for two hours I bought food from his relatives, practiced spanish, argued with his dad, and met his wife and child. It tured out to be a great experience.

The rainy season is in full capacity here and it typically rains in the late afternoon between 1pm and 4 pm depending on the topography. Here in a cloud burst a flash flood swamped this familys house and the inhabitants were hustling to get out all their possessions. While photographing it I noticed that the family was smiling and in good different from how I'd be acting. I guess.......the fact that they haven't been paying flood insurance means that they have no strees waiting to hear back from the broker about why they won't be paying.

My first ticket in 50,000 km for making a dangerous pass around a transport truck that was slowing down at about 1 km from a check point. I of course could'nt see the check point so I passed in the passing lane. This apparently was dangerous and the cop pocketed my license and ordered me to pay 300 Cordobas. I was so mad that I requested to see my license and when it was presented from his pocket I tried snatching it from his hand. It didn't work out all that well and I had to pay up in the end to free my hostage license.

Mr police man. I popped a shot while he was writing up a ticket after I was arguing with him that I did nothing wrong....but whats to loose on his end other than 300 cordobas if he was to just let me roll on through. Thats what I get for stopping and abiding by my western rules which state, when a cop says stop...down here you waive and say ...good bye!

A Marathin ride was in order after hanging out for the better part of a month and so I pulled out of San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua with full ambition to cross through Honduras and get to El Salvador in good time. As I was practically at the Costa Rica, Nicaragua Border I was instore for a big day.

I had previously thought that I'd stop into Granada and visit a fellow named Amadice who Julie and I stayed with on the way down. This time, however, I'd be able to talk a bit, now that I have a better volcabulary of spanish. Alas, when I checked the map I was only 62km away and it was 9:45am. This seemed too early for me to stop so I continued northward to the border of Honduras. Just before the border there was a check stop and a large transport truck began slowing down about 1 km from the stop. There was a passing lane, and from behind the truck I could'nt see what was going on, so, I simply pulled out and passed the truck at about 80km/hr only to see a check point ahead. I was pulled over to the side and asked for my license. I handed over the trusty laser photocopied and laminated fake and got busted for it. No big deal! He simply asked if there was an original available. As Grant and I were asked the day before at the border to present originals I thought it was ok to hand over the original. Dumb move! The currupt cop pocketed my drivers license and began writing up a bogus ticket. I could see what he was doing so I interrupted and asked what hapened to my license. He immediately pulled the card from his pocket and stated that he'd be holding onto it until I paid a traffic ticket for dangerous passing. I thought back to the dangerous pass and there were no other cars, it was a straight road and it was also a designated passing area with a broken yellow line. All these thoughts ignited a fury in me and I lurched forward and tried to snatch the card from his hand. He must have been a professional knuckles champ, because, his reflexes were so fast that I missed and raked his finely pressed shirt with my greasy wet black gloves. This totally startled him and he backed way off and began yelling at me. As I knew that he was totally working me over I started yelling back at him which really did'nt do anything at all. I pulled out my camera as he finished writing up the ticket and popped a shot of him and he seemed oblivious. In the end I had to ride into town and direct deposit the money (15 USD) into a police account. On return with the payment reciept from the bank I got my drivers license back and he wished me good travels trying hard to be my buddy now. On departure there was a solid line of cars on the way out, I said good bye and rolled on the throttle passed them all on a solid line and suffered no consequences.
The fun wasn't over yet! As I was riding along, black as ink clouds beagn to form to the east. I could see rain on the horizon and suited up in rain gear. Moments later I was riding through one inch of flowing water making its way off the highway to the adjacent ditching. Eventually I made it out of the rain and arrived at the Honduras/Nicaraguan border at 2 pm. There was a football game on and Argentina was playing so the Aduana guy would'nt leave the T.V. room to process the papers for 30 more minutes until 2:30. I didn't care because I expected nothing more than this when I was approaching the border. Once the Guy came back it was only 5 minutes and I was in. I ran into the money changer at this border that ripped me off 30 USD on the way down. He remembered me and told the guy that was exchanging cash with me that I was a friend and to give me a good rate. Of course he remembered me! I paid for his months food and Accomidations and I specifically remember him yelling to me as I rode off that he "Loved Canadians!!!"
The last time that I crossed Honduras there were 15 check stops. This time however, there were 4 and I only got stopped at two of them. At the last stop I was getting too friendly with the police and finally when I turned the key on to start the bike the guy began asking me for my motorcycle gloves so that he could own a pair as I was returning to the United States where I could get another pair easily. As I'm low on cash the notion of handing over 60 dollar gloves was out of the question so I simply relpied ...NO!
I was about to tackle the worst border of all between Honduras and El Salvador. Here the border is run by a family that charges processing and paper handing fees to all that pass through. I told the guy that he was running a mafia and he totally agreed. I argued that I wasn't paying anything because I'd passed through more than 40 borders and its all the same process. He was very convincing that this was a different border and that I'd be spending the night. I agreed and showed him that I was content on staying up all night and sleeping beside my bike. The conversation was over heard by the woman at immigration and the message was relayed that she would'nt stamp my passport if there wasn't a payment. In the end I barged through the big wooden doors and spoke to the head official who phoned over to the immigration office and right away my passport was stamped. This scenario took 2 hours and in the mean time I met the paper pushers whole family who comes to the border to cook snacks, sell beverages, push papers etc. His wife and child also hang out at the border all day with daddy. In the end I saw the man as working for a living with his whole extended family extorting the public just to make ends meet. I finally gave up 6 dollars because he became my friend and introduced me to his father, mother, wife, brothers, brother in laws, baby, and all his friends (oh and didn't let anyone steal my gear when I had to go inside to sign a paper). I took a picture of him and his family and gave him my email so that I could forward the photo to him somehow just because I liked him in the end.
Getting into El Salvador was so easy that it only took the time for the official only to read the passport and it was over. Some 5 km up the road was Aduana and this took the better part of 45 minutes and a drug sniffing dog. By now it was dark and I was heading to El Tunco for El Salvador's best surfing wave. Alas, 40km down the highway the bridge was missing. A huge bridge...just gone! and with all the iron and concrete laying in the belly of the river below. I pulled a U'ey and accumulated so many bugs on my visor that it was an emergency to stop and find accomidation immediately. The problem was, there were no ligit accomidations other than love motels which are very popular down here. You see the vast majority here are catholic and the kids live at home basically until they are married so....if you want to get your end in, you gotta go to a love motel. I guess this is better than going to her house and having to stick around and pretend to enjoy scrambled eggs in the morning around an awkward breakfast table with daddy staring down his machette.
Finally, a hotel appeared on the horizon that wasn't pay by the hour, 24hr/day. Unfortunately it was 3 times the price that I usually pay and I had to shell out 28 bucks for a hotel that would definately run me about 150 in Canada, complete with free coffee, fresh potable water, and a bag boy with a pistol grip defender, chrome finished shot gun. He was a cool dude and very helpful with carrying up my bags. He was also really interested in my motorbike but was willing only to talk for a moment because he had a duty to protect the establishment with the pump action chrome pistol grip 12 guage.
Today I changed my oil at a little motorcycle shop and made my way to yet another bridge washed out. Apparently all the way up the coast I'll be running into wash outs. There was a group of fellows willing to help me across, for pushing, pulling and stabilizing the bike. In the end, however, I knew the water was too deep and the babyhead size boulders making up the river bed was just too much work, not to mention that the water was running hard and about waist deep according to the eager helpers. To save the bike and about 20 bucks in handing fees I opted for an alternate route. Announcing the plan for an alternate route one enterprising individual demanded a consultation fee. He was about 8 years old and should have been at school...but this little brat was obviously well on his was to being a millionaire.
I skirted the bridge by going north east to San Salvador and then came back south west to the CA2 to El Tunco where El Salvador's best point break is located. I checked into a hotel that offered me a 12 dollar room. Once my bags were in the room the girl looking after the bed sheets demanded 25 bucks. I was so polite that it was sick. But having the option to leave as it was only 2 pm she backed down to the original price and was super nice about it after I explained in broken spanish that her boss told me 12 dollars and I'd leave other wise. With this matter setteled I headed down to the beach that was rocked hard by a storm only a couple of weeks ago and rented a surf board from a friend that I met 7 moths ago named Bambo. The storm completely ruined the beach. Now all that is left is Boulders and round stones and pebbles. All along the back beach is piles of drift wood so deep that is is impossible to navigate. Alas, it was alot of work to get to the entry point where the surf break is located.
El Tunco is one of the best places for me as there is virtually no breaking waves off to the side of the point. Thus, I don't get my face wet trying to duck waves! I simply paddle out to the entry point, wait and catch a solid 30 second long wave. It's totally awesome dude!
Perhaps I'll stay another day but the mountains of Mexico and Guatemala are calling my name.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two Roads Diverge, San Juan Del Sur, Nicaragua

Although we were together for practically 24 hours a day for 3.5 weeks I`ll miss the kitty loving, puppy kicker!
Jesus saluts the people of San Juan Del Sur, but if you want to meet Jesus it`ll cost you 1 dollar US...well unless you`re local then its 10 cents...oh its for up keep of the statue!!

A shot of San Juan Del Sur from the west side of the beach looking east.

The hostal and surf board rental place at the beach where I got pummeled over and over again by sets of waves that completely exhausted any attempts to catch a ride.

Other tourists at the beach in need of a break and some sun after the punishment from the relentless crashing sets.

Ruta 4, an epic road through Costa Rica where this Volcano was occasionally puffing dark grey plumes of smoke providing for a awe inspiring back drop to an already beautiful scene.

A plantation of some sort of crop which I thought might be pineapple..but probably not...

The Infamous Bridge between Costa Rica and Panama which turned out to be more worry than trouble. Actually the most frustrating part was dealing with the fact that people down here are dumb`t quite figure out what to say....but nonetheless completely unresponsive to repeated horn beeping as you are navigating the planks trying not to drive off and onto the bumpy rail ties. The local dimwit(s) simply would not give way or remove their bicycles off the planks as you and the 800 pound motorcycle continued coming along with the rider tense and wobbling trying to maintain balance.

Grant verifying that the bearings needed replacing and thus I volunteered to get the job done in a jiffy riding the 126km round trip, finding a place, packing the bearings and then paying way too much to have a bunch of guys watch me work as I used their tools. In the end the entire job was Formula One worthy at 1:37 minutes!!

Zuly`s hostal in Panama City where Richard, the owner hosts guests, especially bikers including Grant and I and also some other bikers who I met down in Buenos Aires named Christoff and Silke from Germany riding their BMW GS1200 and GS 800 respectively. The bloke riding the cruiser was Tony from Austraila. The three of them arrived the day after Grant and I with Fritz on the Catamiran.

Leaving Panama City Grant and I made our way north along the most beautiful highways....well since I left Central America that is! The plan was to make it to the Town of David and from there take a secondary highway nothward up to a mountain town called Boquette which Julie and I stopped into on the way down. It was kind of comforting in a way to know where I was going for the first time in 7 and a half months. Along the road we were'nt without adventure however. Grant heard a squeeling and grinding type of noise which prompted him to pull over and employ my ears to verify the potential probelm. Grant determined that this was possibly a bearing problem so we coasted with the engines off down a long hill to the bottom where there happened to be a convenient pull off. From here we began the diagnosis and with the bike propped up on the centre stand we felt the back wheel wobble significantly indicating bearings which needed replacing. Without a moments hesitation we went to work with the tools and had the back wheel off the bike and loaded onto the back rack of my machine ready to head back to the nearest town some 62km away. My mission was to find a bearing place, get the bearings greased and installed and then get back to Grant who was waiting literally on the side of the road for my return. I took on the responsibility with honor knowing that Grant would save my life in any situation as only overland motorcyclists would understand. I rode the 124km round trip and had everything taken care of in exactly 1hour and 37 minutes which prompted Grant to ask on my return what went wrong. My response was "nothing went wrong just sent the right man on the job...heh heh heh!!"
Grant and I ended up staying in Boquette for two nights since the bearing issue initiated a response in Grant that prompted him to replace his front tire with the spare that he carried from Ushuaia as well as the front bearings as a preventative measure.

After two nights in Boquette we rolled out of town toward the north eastern border of Panama and Costa Rica, at Sixaola. Here we encountered the infamous trestle Bridge that I actually lost sleep over. I had previously spoken to another rider who crossed the bridge and described it as hairy, however, I also knew of guys that crossed this bridge on Harley Davidsons so I knew in my heart that it could'nt be that bad. In the end the bridge was a minor challenge for Grant and I to cross after riding bazarre conditions all throughout South America. The border took 2 hours to cross because we did not account for lunch break and the 1 hour time change into Costa Rica which planted us at the border at 12:30 pm. Alas, after walking to the pharmacy some 300 meters away to pay for insurance and returning to Aduana to proove insurance, we had to return to the pharmacy to get a photocopy of our stamped passport, and then, return to Aduana to get our bike was an athletic endevor..we finally entered Costa Rica just as it began to down pour.
Grant and I made our way to the Town of Puerto Limon where Colombus apparently landed in 1492. Here we stayed at the hotel Contenential which was a budget hotel for 6 USD which the guide book suggested. First thing in the morning we arose to a car which wouldn`t start with barking dogs and a rooster crowing. It was 6 am and time to hit the highway for Nicaragua. I was toying with the idea of sticking around Costa Rica but the commercialism and the tousist industry of Costa Rica made it seem kind of ruined, so forward I followed Grant to the Nicaragua border with no regrets.
Arriving at the border was simple as I knew the whole drill and where to go. Instead of paying dozens of people 1 or 2 dollars a piece for nothing, I got through the border for only 9 USD .....3 for fumigation which I tried to skip but got caught and 7 for a tourist card. The fumigation is such a joke that I tried to refuse but they insisted on spraying the bike with soapy water. Before entering Nicaragua, however, we needed to find a police officer to sign a piece of paper before the customs agent would stamp our bikes in. The police down here are lazy and unavailable at the best of times so on a sunday late in the afternoon our guy was nowhere to be found. Grant and I split up and began asking and looking around for our fool. Alas, Grant and I ended up meeting in the Aduana where we both began asking the lady cop to come and help us. Nobody was particularily helpful treating it as ...`this ain`y mai jab!` Grant got pretty ticked off and proceeded out of the office into the parking lot yelling ..``Senoir Policiaaaaaaaaa` oh Senior Policiaaaaaaaa.....`` His stunt seemed to work pretty well and all of a sudden a man appeared in navy blue who seemed kind of embarrased. Grant has a special way of acting very apologetic and respectful when he knows he`s done bad and the cop bought his act and gleefully signed our papers which enabled us to gain stamps and entry into Nicaragua. In total the border took 2.5 hours which could have been much faster.
It was decided that we`d head for San Juan Del Sur, west of lake Nicaragua. Its a popular place for Americans to come to as well as lots of tourists from other countries. Grant and I celebrated our last night together with a few drinks and in the morning I said farewell to my friend whom I`ll never forget. Grant and I lived through some pretty challenging situations and seemed to keep our wits and humor about us. I was sad to finally see him pull away from the hostal this morning. I hope that Grant drops in to see me on a moto trip out east some day and share the memories that we created together in an epic 3.5 week oddesy.
Today I decided to chill out with a young American friend Josh, who I met at the hostal and invited me to go surfing. Together we hopped on my motorbike and headed down a terribly steep and muddy road to a beach that rented boards and offered accomidations. The waves were intense and I could only manage to get out past the break once and after that I was completely spent. Following surfing we cooked up some pasta and followed that up with a hike to the local Jesus mountain which seems to exits in every other town. The evening evolved into some beer and a few games of pool with a Yacht captain named Ken who has been in the area for 3.5 months and living on board his boat for 3 years after selling his computer company.
In the morning I`ll decide where I head to next...Possibly Granada and then continuing North from there.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Panama City, Take two

At Zuly's backpacker hostel in Panama city, Richard cares for the safety of his guests!
In Carti the Kuna Indians build homes all over tropical islands using materials made mostly from the surrounding forests. Note the Palm tree thached roofs.

A Very large Tri-miran which I heard Grant comment that you'd be able to have a football match on.

Just entering Panama city and about the battle the local Loco's!

The new bridge that will aleviate the anxiety of the river crossing for future motorcycling adventures using the Carti port to catch or disembark yachts in the future.

The infamous river crossing which looked forboding, but was actually quite easily navigated as long as you kept the speed moving forward.

Grant went first and scouted the line. He was a very brave man indeed to blindlt go where very few of the worlds V-stroms have gone before.

I decided to get a shot with a few of the local Kuna women dressed in their traditional brightly colored clothes just after we paid our 5 dollar toll to cross through their land.

Grant up front with the bikes while I sat on a hard 1 inch wide fiberglass rib that added structural rigidity to the hull. The motor to shore was smooth and fast but the Captain was a hard barganer and wanted more than the lions share of the available funds that Grant and I had in our pockets.

After saying our final good bye's to Leonardo, Grant and I boarded a launcher with our bikes crammed into a tiny little craft. The motor to shore was to a Kuna indeginous beach landing where we had to pay a road fee of 5 dollars per bike to pass. This was all easy, however, getting the bikes out of the launcher was a bit of a hastle. Although there were plenty of men around nobody wanted to get sweaty or dirty lifting the bikes and everyone had their own ideas. Finally I got fed up with the Captain and I yelled that we were off loading the bikes onto the beach! Thankfully, Grant followed this up with directions in spanish as to where the men had to position themselfs and from there progress began to happen. In the end both of our bikes we lifted into 30cm deep seawater and pushed up onto the beach safe and sound.

Once all of our gear was out of the boat the negociation began about the fee for transporting us and our bikes to the beach. Leonardo told me prior to getting into the launcher that the maximum that I should pay was no more than 20 dollars each. The Captain began the price at 60 dollars for the two of us and Grant and I agreed to play "good cop, bad cop". I acted like I was peeved off about the price and began low balling at 30 dollars for the both of us. The game lasted 30 minutes until a truck loaded with goods needed a launcher, this new potential for income ended the game at 45 dollars which Grant and I were aiming for.

Next, was to tackle the road out of Carti. In prevous years the road was dirt, however, now it is very passable and actually quite easy with new tar and chip sealed hard top. The only obstacle left is the river crossing which was actually quite tame as the bottom is composed of fine gravel and compacted well enough to give good stability and traction even with my highway slicks. Grant went first and navigated the 100 foot wide river easily by following the ripples where we knew was indicative of shallow water. After watching Grant, I easily rode the same line with no troubles and actually avoided getting my left foot wet as I was able to hold it way up in the air and out of the wake created by the front tire. In total I estimate that the water was no deeper than 50 centimeters at the deepest point, but I could envision someone getting into trouble if they got nervous and fell over.

The road out of Cari was about 33 km long and was all out mountaineering for the bike. Most of the steeps warrented 2nd or even 1st gear climbing and the descents were gear box and brake assisted. The brakes, however, were worthless as Grant and I doused the calipers with WD40 prior to the sail to prevent pitting of the pistons.

We finally made it back to the CA1 and onto a good highway road. Our mission was to make it to Zuly's Backpackers Hostel in the heart of down town Panama. Richard, the owner, greeted us sweaty and tired motorbike men and then provided us with comfy beds and an A/C cooled room. Grant and I were so hungry that we went for supper twice before hitting the sac.

This morning we planned to hit Aduana early and head northward only to find out that the man stamping us in was critical of my expired registration. This warrented that I need buy Panama insurance for the bike. The total cost was 15 USD and validated my motorcycle for one month in Panama. The delay at Aduana was more than 4 hours and warrented that I stay in Panama for another night, so, as it lookes at the moment I'll be heading out first thing in the morning toward Costa Rica. In preparation for all the up coming border crossings I've doctored up my registration using a fine tipped black pen by turning the 03 for March to an 08 to look like my registration is valid until July. As I practiced several times on photocopied registration I managed to execute the forgery flawlessly and the doctoring is undectable. The fact that my registration and insurance is expired makes absolutely no difference because I'm not insured outside of Canada or the US. Infact my friend got rear ended in Mexico while at a stop light and when the police got involved the blame was laid on the Gringo. Sanbornes insurance informed my buddy that he'd best be getting out of there ASAP because there was nothing they could do for him and that He'd be going to jail until the issue got sorted out. Thus the insurance thing down here just doesn't hold water due to the curruption. Hopefully this gets me through Central America without further problems and without additional costs until I can get new registration and insurance when I re-enter the USA and Canada. As it stands I'm off to the beautiful country of Costa Rica in the morning.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bridging the Gap with the Nutty Professor, Leonardo

Leonardo and I at the helm on day 5 once he figured that I was a worth while human being.
Carti, a costal island oasis hidden behind a reef near our departure point from the yacht.

Sunrise on day 5 at 0545am looking at the island of Porvenir

The 46 foot sloop with me and the KLR aboard. Luckily for Grant and I the seas were calm and therefore very little salty water was splashed over the machines saving them from dreaded corrosion.

Kuna indians inhabit the islands along the coast. One evening while anchoring in a shallow bay a few fellows motored out to the yacht and offered us crab and rock lobster for sale if we wanted, dinner was being fixed in the cabin so we all opted to refuse the offer and save the lives of our crustacean friends.

The first night aboard the Yacht Zao was a pleasant evening where I chose to sleep on deck under a star filled sky for the last time in Colombian territory. While laying under the stars I happened to notice two identical constellations in a triangular pattern. I could not determine if I was looking at Libra or Gemini but nonetheless it was an impressive sight. We were anchored in the bay of Sapzurro which had crystal clear water with a visibility more than 15 meters. At 0600am Leonardo awoke to catch a Launcher back to Capurganga where a woman had found his cellular phone card which he lost the night before while we were getting our passports stamped. Alas, he returned at 1030am and we got under way sailing northwesterly along the Isthmus of Panama. Paola, his daugher, who rode down with us to Turbo was aboard to help Leonardo with the sail and also to visit, I guess it may have been many weeks since they last visited.

Grant suggested that I pop an anti-nausiea tablet so I took his advice, but only after 30 minutes of bobbing and listing. Although the sea was calm, the ocean rollers were present and caused the Yacht to raise and fall every 4 seconds. This motion had me focusing on the horizon and trying to ignore everything else for the first 48 hours and prompted me to sleep up on deck for the next 4 nights.

Leonardo´s Yacht was a 46 foot Sloop (Catch) 15 beam HYC (Heritage Yacht Club). The boat was previously owned by Ted Turner (owner of CNN). As the first sailing day progressed it became apparent that the dream of sailing a Yacht had turned into quite a boring occupation as well as passage. The scenery and shore line was beautiful but the diesel fumes and constant groan from the engine took away from the vision of what being a sailor on the open ocean is really like. The lack of wind and the schedule to get to Carti warrented 5 days of engine sailing. Thus, the sail through the San Blas islands was bland and I probably would opt for am overland flight now that I've sailed once.

As for the company on board, I was happy to have Grant to talk to every once and a while. Grant was also very good at stimulating conversation between the crew as his knowledge in the field of electrical engineering had much to do with physics. Grant also likes to discuss his phylosophical point of view which is always interesting and good food for thought.

Remember that Leonardo was a distinguished physicist who worked on CERN´s particle accelerator. Although he was apparently a brilliant man with 25 years experience he definately lacked any business sense and generally treated our sailing experience as a means to drum up 1600 bucks and pretty much stared out on the horizon or talked in Italian with his daughter. When Grant did prompt a conversation, Leonardo tended to treat the conversation as an intellectual battle field and aruge the opposing point of view every time. This made for thought provoking conversation but really it was all just a show of ego.

As for the life aboard the boat, the living quaters were a bit messy to say the least. During a heavy rain storm the windows and hatches began to leak. The leaks were convieniently located over the foam cushons of the seating and sleeping areas. This water leakage explained the moldy tinge to the air in the cabin.

In my life I have shared many close living spaces and have had to cope with many people that I really did'nt enjoy the company of, but, it was my duty to accept the situation and overcome my own personal feelings. This sailing voyage, however, tested my endurance in the field of tolerance. Leonardo and his daughter had to have been be the most openly oblivious people with respect to respecting others that I've met in a long time. On the 2nd and 3rd day of sailing I was appauled at the unhygenic behavior of these people. In one instance I yelled out in a plea for Paola to please stop chewing on Leonardo´s fingernails. They both stopped for a second to stare at my most rude interruption. In the moment of pause they let the single strand of saliva elastically break surface tension only to reply ¨what.....I am only cleaning under his nails....not chewing the finger nails¨! This was too much and I had to look away for the better part of 30 minutes 3 times a day for this grooming activity to occur. By the 4th and 5th day of sailing the ¨finger nail cleaning" became more normal to me but the personal grooming continued further. Next, Paola (LOUD TALKER) progressed to popping zits, and peeling sunburned patches of skin off of Leonardo´s sun burned scalp. This was gross enough, but, it got better than that. The next action almost made me hurl when I witnessed Paola pop a flake of Homo Sapien jerky into her mouth directly from a now pinkish sliver on Leonardo´s little bald head. To top it all off she followed the grooming session with chewing her own fingernails and cuticals all the way back to the origin of the nails Keratin. When it was all over this meant it was time to eat and Paola disappeared to the cabin below to cook over a propane burner.

For the first two days I tried to limit my food intake as there was limited water on board and I knew that hand washing and sanitization was impossible. Infact, rain water which was scooped off the greasy and rust speckled deck was used for boiling spagetti and potatoes and Leonardo boasted the fact that he encouraged his daughter to eat candy off the sidewalk when she was a child to boost her immune system. None of his stories about his immunity was very impressive at this point and I just wanted to get off the boat ASAP.

Aside from the unhygenic and unsanitary conditions the cigarette smoking and melow dramatic extreme talking volume began to become irritating. I could'nt understand what they were talking about but the drama was sometimes interesing to watch. The show went through cycles of europhic happiness, yelling, hand waiving...knock over the coffee cups and plates of extreme sadness and crying sessions. Man....had I never had the opportunity meet other Italian´s I would have had only these two brats to judge the Italian culture and most undoubtedly would never have the urge to visit Italy for fear of being batted in the face, as an innocent bystander to a conversation.

You might ask why the heck I sat around and witnessed all this.....well the answer is that most of the time, although the diesel motor was running their voices easily out competed the diesel decibels and then add to the fact that the boat was only 46 feet long with the cock pit located two thirds of the way up the yacht...(the only refuge form the drizzle) there was no escape!

Alas, on the 5th day Leonardo began to come around and began being somewhat hospitable to me as the guest. He began telling me about all the ¨piece of shit ¨ other guests that have sailed with him in the past and how stupid he believed everyone was. He began telling me how he despised the western world and how he loved the people of South America and Colombia. Obvious to me but not obvious to either of genitically related self proclaiming geniuses, I determined that Leonardo was just plain burned out! Neither of them were particularily bright when it came to anything outside of their narrow scope of extreme specialization. I could only hypothesise that the poor soul was burnt out and I can only describe him as a pure "cluster f**k¨. I can appreciate only that he made significant contributions to society of a magnitude that I will never understand. Possibly this is the root of his hatrid toward people. It seems that he cannot communicate to who he feels are the dummest people on the planet, thus this makes the man, the genius himself feel inadequate and stupid in his own right.

In the end we pulled into the Port of Carti and off loaded the bikes into a launcher with 3 men waiting in the boat. Leonardo was all smiles and I saw that he genuinely was happy and sincerely hoping to meet with Grant and I again in the future. I hugged good ole Leonardo and looked past his faults and realised that he was just a good fellow with a few bad habits. He is just as ignorant in some respects as the rest of the world is, however, Leonardo is arguably much more intellegent in some areas which I cannot even begin to comprehend. Looking back on the voyage Leonardo gives a good product which I can only describe as unforgetable and thought provoking. As the man, I did not dislike him, however, I do hope that he finds something else to do soon and I hope that he persue´s his idea to be a yacht captin for a private yacht in Miami. I will never forget the voyage with the Nutty Professor, Particle Accelerator Specialist, Movie maker, Photographer, Fixwing Pilot, turned Sailor and soon to be new father. I wish him well and thank him for an unforgetable memory that will definately gain value as time goes on.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Launcher Approach, Sapzurro, Colombia

One after noon on day 2 Grant and I happened to notice a pod of dolphins making there way towards the bow of the boat. It was truely a magical experience and it was interesting to see how social the beautiful creatures were with us and to each other as they surfed and raced the boat for the better part of 15 minutes
The bikes being tied down on the deck shortly after the gruff Launcher captain got rid of us. In the process my windshield got broken but alas, it was no big deal, stuff can alway be fixed.

Once Grants bike was loaded it was time to heave my pig of a machine into the Launcher. Six men heaved the 200kg up and over the gunnel and all of our gear along with 10 people were loaded into the craft for the 1.5 hr motor to Supzurro.

After a heavey rain fall the streets of Turbo morph into single track trails that eventually get beaten down and smooth again once things begin to dry out.

A derelict boat rests on the shore along the main river estuary in Turbo.

Kids playing in a hole in the wall along a dirt road street in Turbo within the community area where Grant and I decided to go for a exploratory stroll one afternoon.

Two happy young fellows playing in the garbage that floats onto shore. In the Styrofoam were many baby crabs which the young boys were apparently farming.

A motorcycle truck with fragile cargo. This machine was a shaft drive and carried a payload of several tens of dozens of eggs.

The shore line of Turbo in a estuary which was polluted with garbage and raw human sewage. The air was dank and the water smelled like a treatment plant yet people lived here and seemed to be enjoying there simple lives.

Just before Turbo, these enterprising Military men were trying to pester us for money which we outright refused to give. After refusal I asked if I could fire his grenade launching machine gun to which he was ready willing and able to provide for a small fee. Before negotiation began however, Grant thwarted my idea saying it was not a smart idea. Since he was not confortable about me firing the machine gun I let sleeping dogs lie.

It was decided that we would relive the memory of the infamous town of Turbo and head straight back into the backwater town. We arrived just before dark and had little time to negotiate any such Launch out to Supzurro to rendevous Leonardo and his Yacht for the morning. Infact we blindly headed to Turbo without any communications with Leonardo because the urge to get out of Cartegena and have a change of scenery was overwhelming.

Paola, who is Leonardos daughter, met us at the hostal at 0830 am thursday morning and we set off together from Cartegena to Turbo with me in the lead and Grant and Paola riding two up. After spending the night at Hotel Caribe in Turbo, Grant and I decided to head to the docks and begin negotiation for a boat to meet Leonardo in Supzurro. Our discussion with a few people morphed into a huge mob of people formed into a semi circle of whom no-one had the foggiest clue about anything but were willing to add their two cents about the cost of a boat to Supzurro. The range in price was huge between 1 million to 2 million Pesos......about the same price as flying from Bogota to Panama. Alas talking to the dimwits yeilded nothing but frustration.
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As the day progressed a phone call finally came in from Leonardo with news that he would organize a Launch from his end. This was great news as he managed to negotiate half the price that we could get in Turbo.

In the morning after our second night in Turbo we headed to Aduana to sign out the bikes and make our way to Necocci....a little town where the Captain of the Launcher decided to meet us. (The Captain probably had a woman to meet for an hour or two). Grant and I along with Paola rolled up to the beach in Necocci and greeted Leonardo along with roughly 15 locals ready to heave our bikes into the 20 foot by 6 foot wide fiberglass craft touting a 200 Horse engine. All of our gear was removed from the bikes and the crew easily lifted both of our machines into place within the hold of the small vessel. We were now ready to cross the open ocean along with 10 passengers in total. Luckily for us the ocean was calm and we didnt have excessive thrashing from the waves.

The Captain who is a local from Supzurro was a gruff jerk off who figured he was some sort of big wig treated us like a couple of lesser individuals.....scally wags! Grants bike, which I might add was tied down by the locals (incompetence runs rampid down here) began falling over into my bike. We requested the boat to stop so we could readjust but the prick yelled to us Gringos to sit down and informed us that we would be paying extra for the 30 second delay. Alas, everyone calmed down and Grants bike was uprighted with no damages.

We finally pulled into Sapzurro roughly 1.5 hours after departure. After dropping off the local passengers the Captain of the launcher informed us that we needed to hurry up. He was such an asshole that I wanted to strangle him. Using the mast we winched Grants bike up and onto the deck with no problems. Next was my bike. The captain yelled to me to toss Leonardo the bow line. Of course his mate being an incompetent local never organized the rope so it was completely tangled. After calling me a dumb white cunt! He reversed the engine and came in fast toward the sailboat effectively cracking my windshield which was overhanging the gunnels of the launcher. I yelled at the asshole and subsequently I got yelled at by Leonardo.....Leonardo needs this man and had to pretend to be on his side. In the end my bike got loaded with no further problems.

The next order of the day was to get our passports stamped in Caparguna. This involved walking up and over a jungle mountain and along a rooty muddy path. I enjoyed the hour and a half hike and also enjoyed arriving in the Town of Caparguna. The immigration office there was very basic and had a mascot who was a large orange tiger striped Tom Cat. In 5 minutes our passports we stamped and now all we needed to do is find someone to bring us back by boat to Supzurro. Simply looking around standing still promped the locals to inquire what we needed. Youre always being watched! In 2 minutes we had a nice and friendly captain who was willing to sail us the 10 minues around the shore to the Yacht.

Arriving at the dock in Sapzurro which is merely a concrete pier with 2 military Marine boats tied up we happend to notice that the military was gearing up for a nighttime patrol. Roughly 15 men decked out in Fatigues all touting machine guns silently slipped out of the shallow bay in their 30 foot by 10 foot wide boat touting triple 350 horse power outboard engines.

After a short walk along the unpolluted garbageless beach we found the dingy in the dark and together Leonardo, Paola, Grant and I paddled back to the Yacht for a feed of pasta, and red wine to cap the evening.

The cabin is a spacious 15 foot wide area with 6 foot plus celings. Alas, it is a working boat and is cluttered and kind of dirty. This however is nothing new to me as I have been dirty and sweaty now for the better part of 7 months.

So far Leonardo and his daughter have been slightly entertaining. Hands waiving, loud talking, yelling at times, emotional, cry babies at times, but generally good hearted individuals ready to argue about anything. We will see how the relationship kindles over the 3 to 5 day passage as the absent minded physics genius runs around the yacht meanwhile getting us eventually to Panama by passing the Darrien Gap.