Category Archives: Uncategorized

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S.O.S. how to leave Colombia?

Often, when just getting to a new country in Latin America, I’m a bit worried. So many of the countries here have bad reputations. “Hostel-stories” are being passed around about people getting robbed and kidnapped. They’re usually third hand stories, or just something that someone read on the news. Still, it does go through my mind after just crossing that border, or the first evening in a strange city. That wasn’t the least for Colombia. According to the Dutch government the most dangerous country of our trip.

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Map of Colombia from the Dutch government. Orange = probably should not go. Red = DO NOT GO.

And always, after half a day of being in one of these countries that initially worry me, all these worries and fears disappear. Completely. And of course, that was the same for Colombia. What friendly people, what hospitality have we experienced.

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Take these guys for example. We asked if we could camp on the land of their farm, and yes, we could. Not only that, they invited us for dinner with the entire family.

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And here we could stay for free on an otherwise paid campsite. Because we were traveling on motorcycles I guess?

Everyone we met was super awesome and nice.

Colombia is the shit! The only downside is that it’s a little too good.

Again, we spent a month in a single country. The supposed end date of our trip, mid july, is coming awfully close and it’s still a long way to Argentina. We do not take responsibility for this, all these places here are just so damn good that it’s too hard to leave them.

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Take Cartagena for example.

Three nights in a row we made a failed attempt to leave Cartagena:

  1. We had checked out of our hostel and were walking with all of our stuff to our motorcycles, to go and meet up with our friends from the ferry to work on “Mission New World”. On the way to the bikes, a bearded man storms out of a restaurant rambling about some party that night. It’s Rob, our biker buddy, who we also met on the ferry. “Yeah sure we can stay one more night!”
  2. The next day we *really* had the plan of leaving. But Julien only woke up at 5 o’clock. I got up earlier, sure, but I got lost in Cartagena for a couple of hours. “Hmm, maybe tomorrow then.”
  3. Okay, let’s try again. Mission New World is waiting. We were going to meet up with our van-traveling hippie-friends at Casa Blanca. We took a shower, packed up all of our stuff, and we were heading downstairs to the hotel lobby to check out. Only to find our friends in our hotel lobby. What the fuck are you guys doing here? “There’s apparently some cool party tonight.” “Okay, I guess we can stay another night.”

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Said crew in hotel lobby.

The day after, we finally left. All together. A van, a jeep and two motorcycles. 11 People in total, looking for a place to camp for free and just hang out, smoke weed, make jewelry and cook our own food all day.

And after two days of searching, we found our paradise! A truly beautiful campsite, where the rainforest meets the sea, close to a little town called Palomino. This is really where you’d need to see some photos, but our campsite had a small downside: no electricity, which meant: no opportunity to charge our camera. Damn it.

I’d like to take a moment to talk about travel friends.

It’s a very special phenomenon. Within 10 minutes of meeting each other you can be each others best friends. After traveling for a long time you learn to form strong bonds very quickly. You have to, otherwise traveling would be a very lonely exercise. You know you’ll only be there for each other for a few days, so better become good friends quickly. And it’s true, that we’re each others best friends. Sure, we have amazing friends in our home countries as well, but they’re over there! Not here. You need someone to be in your presence as well. In that sense, we’re all we’ve got.

All good things come to an end, and we felt the need for some serious partying in Medellin. And so we went, on our three day ride there.

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What the fuck? Jetpack helicopter? Helipack? Encountered this on the way.

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Applying for Circue de Soleil.

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We also came across the fattest dog in the world. The owners noticed us pointing and laughing at it, so they opened the fence so we could take pictures of the sad thing.

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Camping inside a police station.

The ride there was absolutely amazing. Mountain riding is what it’s all about. Medellin being in the mountains = $$.

Partying was a success too. The vast majority of our Colombian stories are party stories. Unfortunately, our blog is heavily censored, so I can’t mention too much of these stories. Click on the button below to become a gold member now to access censored content!





Teaser:

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Serious stuff needed to be done too. Our bikes needed love. Mine was making some very strange, worrying noises since Nicaragua. Turned out it was the chain and sprockets that desperately needed replacing. I picked up all the parts for about $100, and had them installed for about $6 (2,5 hours of work). That sounds cheap, and it is. But this mechanic did everything wrong that he possibly could:

  • Brakepads installed incorrectly, so I had no rear breaks
  • Spacer thing in the wheel wrong way around, seriously a case of retardedness
  • Front sprocket wrong way around
  • Rear sprocket wrong way around

Luckily, I noticed timely how badly this sorry excuse for a creature fucked up. I borrowed some tools and fixed it myself.

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These guys were better. They fixed something simple on my pannier-frame, but with great enthusiasm. One good thing about mechanics here: you never have to wait. They always instantly solve (or worsen) all your problems.

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Normally I’m very much against posting food-pics, but for Colombia I’d like to make an exception. That breakfast you see there is 2000 COP ($0,80). That lunch is 4500 COP ($1,80). Prices like that have to be mentioned. Food is very good and very cheap in Colombia.

After spending an excessive 2 weeks in Medellin (as I mentioned before, it’s hard to leave these places), it was time to head towards Ecuador.

But would you look at that, we’re crossing Cali on a saturday. It would be a crime to pass up on a saturday night of partying in a city.

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Camping somewhere after Cali, on our way to Ecuador, we noticed that there was a scorpion in our tent when we woke up. Notice those weird things on it? It was a scorpion mother, carrying around her scorpion babies. How cute.

And that’s how it came to be, that we enjoyed ourselves so much that we spent a month in this beautiful, fun country, filled with amazing people.

Right now we’re in Ecuador, a stunningly beautiful country. Plans are being forged for another great party tonight. Coming soon to a theater near you.

Bonus content!
The GoPro pics from our friend Al that we rode with in Guatemala came in!

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Van Travel vs Motorcycle Travel

Taking a step back from writing about what we’re up to right now (at the time of writing, in Cali Colombia) in this post I’m going to answer some questions about the different ways to travel around overland. For many a motorcycle trip is a big step and seems dangerous, I would say the majority of people moving from A to B do so in a van and many have asked me how that compares to riding a bike.

Luckily as some may know I have been fortunate to have completed a series of trips around Australia in 2009 and 2010 in a van and a station wagon. In this post I’ll aim to discuss the pros and cons of each.

First, about the van. I traveled in a 1995 Mitsubishi Express (I know, sexy) from Melbourne to Perth then north from Perth to Broome and finally to Darwin. This took place nearly a year after I had completed my first trip from Melbourne to Port Augusta, through the middle via Uluru to Darwin and then back to Melbourne on the East Coast. Both trips I was not solo, traveling at the time with my then-girlfriend Segolene and (on the first trip) a friend of hers as well, Audrey.

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Looking wistfully over the Nullabor probably sometime in 2010.

We had bought the van in Melbourne for $1,800. An old plumbers van which we had “converted” into a camper van. This basically consisted of getting a mattress, putting up some blinds, and buying a gas stove and plates. The “refurbishing” process took less than a day and cost basically nothing.

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The inside of our van, with fully functioning mattress, sheets and even a curtain. 

It should come as no surprise that obviously when compared to a motorcycle, a van is leaps and bounds more comfortable to travel in. If you look at the picture above you can see a jerry can of fuel, something very useful when crossing the Australian desert. We also could carry days worth of food, water, and anything else you could possibly imagine.

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Taking selfies before it was a thing…too hip for 2015.

Obviously, our motorcycles simply can’t do this. I once saw a man in Thailand driving a scooter while carrying a mattress, but for us the effort required is simply too much. At the moment, we carry the bare essentials just whatever we can fit in our practical yet (when compared to a van) desperately undersized pannier boxes.

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We don’t even have the space for a sleeping mat, the ground is just fine for livedeleven.com

With a van, as you would guess from our mattress you can sleep inside your mode of transport which not only saves you time in looking for a campsite but also a significant amount of money as well. You don’t really need to carry a tent if you have the right set up, simply pulling into a somewhat safe-looking spot and crawling to the back to sleep is all you really need.

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Seeing this sign on a motorcycle would make us seriously consider our route, with a van this is no problem.

Of course, at least in Australia this isn’t exactly always legal and you can risk getting fines by parking officers. However if you are smart like we were and register the van in the name of a hostel you can just take these and throw them in the glove compartment, never to be paid.

Continuing on from the practicality of of a van in terms of what you can carry and how you can live, there is also the underrated pleasure of being inside, being able to listen to music, sit back in your chair, talk to someone, smoke cigarettes, and pretty much just chill and watch the world go by. This is not always necessarily a good thing however, something I’ll expand on later.

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On the WA-NT border.

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At Litchfield National Park

People often ask Thomas and I about how cost-effective it is to travel on a motorcycle. For anyone wondering, it isn’t. It isn’t for quite a few ways, but in keeping to the topic of this post I’ll compare it to a van.

Yes it is true that a van consumes quite a lot more petrol than a motorcycle. This can be generally offset by the fact that generally speaking when you travel in a van you are with at least two people and in many cases four or more (in this case you do need a tent). You can split the cost of filling up the tank, as well as carry excess fuel. This means you have more freedom to pick and choose where you fill up, saving money by filling up in cities where it is usually cheaper than remote areas.

You do use less fuel with a motorcycle, but you pay your own way. This cost splitting can be applied to other things, such as repairs as well as the purchase of the vehicle its self.

 

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Two young kids, just days after purchasing our babies back in September.

When we purchased the van for $1,800 ($900 a piece) we ended up selling it for $3,500 in Darwin, the reason being we sold it as a “camper van” because it had a mattress.

It is hard to discount safety as well when considering whether to travel via van or motorcycle. Crashing your van at 60kms an hour will hurt, but the same crash on a motorcycle can be life threatening.

So to summarize, a van:

  • Is more comfortable (out of weather, music, talking, etc)
  • Is more economical (splitting costs, carrying more food water)
  • Is more practical (It also is your house!)
  • Has higher resale value (selling it as a house/mode of transportation)

But given all this, it might come as no surprise to some that if given the choice, I will always choose my motorcycle over the van for long trips. My reasoning is best summarized from a quote from “Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance”

“You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realize that through that car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.”

For me (and I feel this is the same for Thomas as well) this quote resonates exactly how we both feel about motorcycle travel. It is a romantic view of not just getting from point A to B, but literally feeling the entire journey. You get tired, you can get hurt, you get wet, hot and cold but at the end of the day you’ve felt every centimeter of a country when driving through.

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Parking by the road at the Redwoods, on a motorcycle you can feel the humidity change when arriving. 

Yes in the traditional sense of the word, a van is more comfortable however it can also take you out of the essence of what it means to complete a big overland trip. I will always remember being under torrential rain in Seattle and Tabasco, Mexico; The freezing air going to the Grand Canyon cutting into me like a knife, and the scorching temperatures in Honduras, Costa Rica, and Panama.

Another understated advantage of a motorcycle is both the sense of community among other motorcycle riders as well as the awe and interest of locals who are more than happy to help with anything you might need.

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Shane, a Harley enthusiast, let us stay at his home in Belize, and rode with us for a moment on the Hummingbird Highway.

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Our homeboy Al.

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Teo, Rob, Thomas and I…The Ferry Xpress biker crew.

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And let’s not forget the infamous “hoon squad”

Less people travel with motorcycles, and that’s exactly why I love it so much. There is no feeling like riding in to a town and having everyone stop and stare, children running after you and waving, large crowds forming where ever we go. You feel like a rock star. Locals will invite you to stay at their place for free, giving you a home cooked meal and real insight into their culture and way of life.

A van, you don’t need to worry about finding a place to stay but this in large part is the whole fun of travel.  Driving to a town that you have no idea what the name is, and ending up on some farm, sinking beers with a local.

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This family spotted our bikes, where we camped in an abandoned lot in Guatemala, they invited us in for breakfast (they didn’t have much but were happy to share what little cereal they had). 

I suppose it is a bit of a romantic view of motorcycle travel, but for those of us who have experienced it, it becomes a bit hard to put in to words. Hopefully the pictures will speak for themselves.

Traveling in a van is an immense amount of fun, something I’ll never forget and I would recommend to anyone. It is a logical, but not entirely necessary “first step” you can take if you’re wanting to start traveling overland. That is not to say that a motorcycle is by any means a “last step” or even the “second step”, it is what I am doing now and for the moment is the most amazing trip I’ve ever undertaken.

But hey, these guys riding unicycles around the world might have something to say about that.

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Maybe next year…

 

 

 

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The Great Journey Of Our Times…

When we last spoke, we were on our to way to Xela (Quetzaltenango) to learn Spanish. Well, we’ve decided not to write a blog post about that and concentrate on the bigger and possibly more interesting section of our trip: The epic drive from Guatemala to Cartagena, Colombia (where I am currently writing this post).

We were in Xela for two weeks, partied a bit and learned a lot of Spanish. See our pictures below for brief details.

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Taken at the central park in Xela, with children we met on the street, they tried on our sunglasses and are official friends of livedeleven.com

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This disgusting beard and hair has since been more or less taken care of

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Thomas and his Guatemalan family. We both stayed in separate families which spoke only Spanish, this was a huge help in improving our Spanish levels. 

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This was along with 5 hours of one-on-one lessons a day. Pictured here is myself and Francisco my, teacher.

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We were lucky enough to be here for Semana Santa, an Easter celebration which is celebrated all throughout Latin America. There are processions all day. Here about 60 men carry a huge float made of wood all over the city. 

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One of the coolest parts is the colored saw-dust paintings they make on the road. They work through the night and make these beautiful installations around the city. 

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The finished product.

Alllllrighty then

From here the great adventure would begin. We would end up crossing through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama on our way to Colombia. After taking our time in Guatemala and Mexico we could get back to our roots and do some serious driving.

Our first stop on this great adventure would be El Tuco, El Salvador. After a relatively painless border crossing helped along with a man we hired to push us to the head of the line we arrived in El Salvador.

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Our GPS

The weather was uncomfortably hot but the roads were nice. Not as many pot holes as expected but you still had to be careful. Sometimes the lines on the road would randomly stop and none of the tunnels are indicated or lit, so sometimes you can do stretches of 500 meters without seeing a thing.

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Getting some gas in Guatemala before crossing the border to El Salvador. Fun fact – Gas has pretty much been the cheapest in the United States out of all the countries so far. 

We had heard of El Tuco from our friend Pollo James. A dude we met in San Diego at the famous OB hostel. Its basically a surfer town where he stayed 6 months and advised us strongly to go to.

So of course, we did.

The hostel was pretty cheap and the weather was sweet. We did a bit of surfing too. We were probably the least tanned and muscly people on the beach but we went anyway. The waves were totally above our skill level but we had a lot of fun.

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El Salvador, drinking on the beach…this is what we do.

One of the best moments of this was Thomas deciding to try and stand up on a wave as it headed towards a group of people, almost killing them and breaking the board in the process.

Surfer dudes watching from a restaurant were quick to laugh and suggest the following: “Maybe you should take some lessons, dude”

We would spend a night partying here as well with a really cool vibe of people and discover the national food of El Salvador the Pupusa, which if you ever go to El Tuco you have to get.

Sweating up a storm and keen to move on, we woke up earlyish and decided to make our way to Honduras.

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Somewhere in Honduras. A very dry and hot, and not so nice place. 

We had never heard anyone say anything good about Southern Honduras so the plan (like most bikers) was to blast through as fast as possible. The drive through the southern part of Honduras is only two hours to the Nicaraguan border but the biggest problem is the dreaded border crossings of Central America.

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More copies, please. See next window. I can’t sign this. You have to find someone else. I can’t do this. This costs money. You filled the form out wrong, etc. Traveling is FUN!!!

It can take anywhere from 2 hours (if you’re lucky) to most recently well over two days to cross from Panama to Columbia (more details about this below).

After the Honduran border we decided never to hire a “helper” again.  They tried to “sort out a problem” for us for 25USD each. When we checked at the counter, there was no problem they just wanted more money.

Upon arriving in Honduras (which is a surprisingly expensive country) we would drive a bit more before arriving in a “24 hour motel” which is basically a prostitute warehouse. They were friendly, the man of the house said he would protect us with his gun which he showed us was conveniently located in a side holster.

They let us camp in their backyard for cheap and we had a lot of fun joking around with the children, who were really interested in our trip and where we came from.

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We were teaching the children English, and helping them do their homework. 

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The boys wearing our jackets.

The next stop on our trip? Nicaragua. The border crossing here went surprisingly well, taking only 3 hours or so. We woke up at around 6am in Honduras and managed to make it all the way to Grenada in one day, stopping briefly in Leon.

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Thomas striking a pose in Grenada.

At this point we are really keen for a party, however we disappointingly arrive to a fairly dead scene. We attempted to go out, but decide to push on.

Where did we go? San Juan Del Sur, also in Nicaragua.

But we weren’t there long. We would hear some news that would put our goal of arriving in Argentina in serious jeopardy.

We met some bikers from the states who informed us that Ferry Xpress the only company that is able to ship our bikes around the Darien Gap, is shutting down. We heard this news on a Monday night, with the last ferry being on the following Monday. Ferry Xpress is notorious for being HIGHLY incompetent and the Panamanian border people being clinically retarded, we had to be in Panama City at 8am on Friday at the absolute latest, to begin the grueling paperwork and to purchase the ticket.

So what did we do that night? We partied hard of course, and woke up hungover on the Tuesday to begin the great journey of our time.

1,100 kilometers of Central American roads in the shortest amount of time we could possibly muster. In our way stood two border crossings and a shitload of driving.

We made it quickly to the Costa Rican border, but this border proved to be the second worst of the trip (can you guess the first?). Everything was going more or less smoothly until this happened.

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At the final step before being let in to the country, after 3 hours of paperwork and being sent around on various wild-goose chases in both Nicaragua and Costa Rica some dude at the customs office noticed that on Thomas’ title his name is spelled wrong but one letter.

He was very stern. He needed to see a lawyer to write up a paper saying that his name was wrong on this form.

We went to the lawyer office and were told that the lawyer would be there in half an hour. Nearly two hours later the guy showed up, and for the “reasonable” price of $50USD he wrote an official looking form saying Thomas is Thomas and we were able to enter Costa Rica.

At this point it was getting dark, and we decided to find a place to camp. A guy let us drive in to his living room and stay in his spare room.

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Not too impressed with the progress we had made, we decided to wake up at 5am and blast through as much of Costa Rica and Panama as we could. This would end up being one HUGE day of continuous riding.

Getting up as the sun rose, we hit the road. And Costa Rica is one fine country to ride a motorcycle in.

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Taking a short break at the beach.

It really is a shame we couldn’t stay here more, but we had to move on.

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Another bonus point for Costa Rica, their money features sloths. 

A highlight of our Costa Rica day was towards the southern part of the country when totally by chance I spot a dude riding a KLR riding in the opposite direction, wearing a yellow t-shirt. This was Al, a friend of ours we met over a month before in Flores, Guatemala. We had made no plans to meet up in Costa Rica, so we quickly pulled over for a quick re-union.

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A quick chat with our main man Al.

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Helmet left in the middle of the road for a risky picture.

We crossed the Panamanian border in the late afternoon (a further 3 hour crossing) and decided to push our riding as far as we could to try and make it to Panama City Thursday morning instead of Friday morning, to give us room to fix any issues with the paperwork.

This meant, however driving another 200 kilometers or so at night through Panama. It doesn’t sound so bad really, but when you realize that the Panamanians have started 250 kilometers of continuous road works and there are more trucks than people in Panama, the mission becomes a lot more daunting.

I had a scare on the freeway when one of these trucks left about a 100 meter stretch of oil on the road. I rode directly over it and lost control of my bike for what seems like ages, eventually the oil stopped and I was able to regain control with no issues.

We drove until around 11:30pm before camping by the side of the road. It had been a long day, and we needed to rest.

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Our campsite

We only slept a few hours here and got up at 3:30am to make our appointment in Panama City by 8am. We arrived on time, found the office and began the paperwork.

First, our bikes had to be inspected which for some reason only started at 10:30am. After this we had to wait to go to another office, which was only open from 2pm. We spent another 3 hours at this office getting the form we needed (DIJ) before finally getting some sleep.

We bought our ferry ticket the next day and finally we could enjoy the weekend in Panama City. We stayed at a great hostel with a table tennis table. I briefly held the title of king of table tennis before being embarrassingly overthrown by a local champ. We partied here, and even managed to visit the Panama Canal, which is a must-see for anyone.

We even went for free. Usually it costs 15$, but they hand out day passes, all you need to do is wait at the entrance for someone to leave and then ask them for their ticket. We managed to get three people in for free with this method which put a smile on everyone’s faces.

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Panama City by night

We left Panama City on Sunday to stay a night in Colon where our ferry was leaving from. Our boat was leaving Monday at 7pm but for some reason we had to be there at 8am, a full 11 hours before departure time. Upon arriving in Colon we realized what an absolute shit hole the place is. The hotels were expensive and everywhere we went we were heckled, people calling us gringos and telling us to leave. So we did.

We drove to a camp site for the Panama Canal workers, where it was explained that we weren’t allowed to camp there but if we hid from the police and parked our bikes behind the bushes it would be ok. Thomas began to set up the tent while I drove off to buy some dinner from the store.

When I got back the police was there, but Thomas was nowhere to be seen. The guard came up to talk to me and whispered “Your friend is here, come back in 15 minutes when the police have left” then proceeded to yell “YOU CANT STAY HERE, THIS IS NOT A CAMP SITE” giving me a friendly wink.

So I left and sat by the side of the road for half an hour smoking cigarettes. As I returned to the camp site the cop was just leaving, he made a u-turn and asked me what I was doing. The exchange went more or less like this:

“What are you doing here?” – Cop

“I am trying to find a camp site” -Me

“Oh, well you can camp at the police station with us if you like, we’ll keep your bike safe”

“Oh thanks, but I am looking for my friend, I think he might be in this workers camp site”

“No, there is no-one there, I was there for a while” (obviously I know this is not true)

“Hmm, I am pretty sure he is there, I am going to take a look”

“I’ll come with you then”

The security guard was there of course and started winking profusely at me while telling me the following “Your friend left to find you at the store, you should go over there, wait half an hour, and if he doesn’t show up come back here to see if he came back”

This is starting to get a bit ridiculous because I know Thomas is hiding about 5 meters away from me but I go to the store anyway, wait until the cop leaves and then come back. We proceed to hide behind this storage house for another hour before giving up and going to the police station to sleep the night.

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Our police station

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The official offices of livedeleven.com

We woke up early to start the big day of the ferry. Arriving at 8am we waited around for 2 and a half hours for a lady to show up, so we could hand her copies of the exact same form that we had gave them already several times in Panama City. She told us to come back at 12:30pm to hand in more forms. We arrived at 12:30, waited an additional 2 hours and handed those in.

Most of our day was spent waiting in the heat, and talking to some new found friends all of which were taking the last boat of the season to Colombia.

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Biker friends, Rob and Teo waiting and waiting and waiting.

Our estimated departure time of 7pm was quickly abandoned when we realized that we were still in line for immigration at 8:30. The boat would only end up leaving at 2:30am, an impressive 7.5 hours late.

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Ferry Xpress, the company best described as “highly incompetent” 

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About to get dog-searched

The boat, however was really nice and our cabin was clean and air conditioned. After an awesome sleep we spent the next 18 hours on the boat chilling and chatting with our friends.

We arrived yesterday in Colombia at around 11pm, our first experience being having to bribe some cops because of some convenient “no bikes after 11pm rule”. They were nice however and gave us a police escort to our hostel.

So here we sit now, in Cartagena Colombia in one of the biggest milestones of the trip so far. Nearly 20,000kms covered and officially in South America. In a few hours we will be meeting up with some friends we made on the boat who are traveling by van to camp with them a few days at the beach in a project we like to call “Project New World”.

I don’t know how that’s going to turn out. But when I do you’ll be the first to know.

Until next time friends.

 

 

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Traveling by Motorcycle vs. Public Transport

Now we’ve been traveling on motorcycles for quite a while – 6 months, almost 20,000 km – I thought it would be interesting to draw the comparison with traveling by public transport, something I have done loads in the past.

Public transport has always been my main mode of traveling in Australia, Asia and Western and Eastern Europe. It’s the most obvious thing to do, because you usually start your journey in a foreign country where you don’t own a vehicle. And I guess I never really had much choice, never having owned a drivers license before I started this trip.

More randomness = more fun
The main difference from a traveling perspective is the places you end up in. Buses don’t take you to small random towns, where the locals have never seen a gringo. With public transport it’s quite easy to get stuck on the gringo trail. Of course, it’s possible to take a random bus to some small town, but no one ever does that, because maybe there is absolutely nothing to do there and you might be stuck there for a day.

On a cycle, you come through those towns, because you have to. Sometimes there is nothing there. Often the time it takes to smoke one cigaret is already enough time spent. And sometimes you might end up spending the night, because the store owner offers that you can stay in his house for free. Sometimes you find yourself having breakfast in some family’s house, because they were curious what those gringos were doing in that tent in the middle of their town.

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Store owners house where we stayed for free

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Family that offered us breakfast

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Julien doing the English homework for some kids of a family in whose backyard we camped

A motorcycle allows you to break free from the tourist hotspots. Not even only that, it forces you to. You’ll meet a lot more locals. You’ll get some very interesting, very random experiences which are in hindsight, at least to me personally, the most valuable.

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Welcome to the Gringo Trail

You can hear them from far way, shouting through the jungle. Laughing. The backpackers are always looking for a party, no matter in which beautiful corner of the world they are. It doesn’t matter which beautiful corner of the world it is, really. The parties remain the same. Austalians, Germans, British, French. Everyone gets drunk, a couple of sluts get laid and some lads have a good story for tomorrow morning. When they look back at their travels, they remember how much fun they had.

A girl asked me why I travel. ‘Cause it’s fun’, I said, being nonchalant, carefully trying not to come across as a try-hard. But I hope I’m traveling for more than that: fun. I hope I’m sincerely traveling for what everyone says they’re sincerely traveling for: exploring new cultures, finding yourself, becoming independent and understanding that our western way of life isn’t the one and only best way.

[Read in Cali girl accent]: ‘Oh my god it’s so amazing to see how happy these people are with so little!’ She saw a Mexican child smile at her when she went outside of her hostel to score some tacos, while being hungover from playing drinking Jenga.

I might hope I’m different, but I know I’m not.

Welcome to the Gringo Trail.

-Thomas Kuipers, 2015

The Gringo trail is an ambiguous line that stretches from “who knows” to “i dont know where” in Central America. It is hard to tell where it begins and where it ends, but all we know is that we made it.

When we last updated we were on our way to Guatemala after a brief stay in Belize. From what I hear the gringo trail might start in Caye Caukler (Belize) but we didn’t go there…too expensive. Continue reading