Category Archives: South America

Hello and Welcome to Phillys Big Trip Alaska to Chile or is that Argentina

  

I have been back in the Netherlands for a couple of years now and I have slowly being going through and editing the thousands of photos I took on Phillys Big Trip and mini adventure where I rode my motorcycle 67,000km across the Americas Continents.

Starting in Halifax Nova Scotia Canada in June 2012 and ending in Buenos Aire Argentina May 2013.

I have finally edited all my photos relating to this trip which is the good news the downside however is that as I have edited every photo all the sizes and dimensions  of these Photos post editing were no longer correct that were linked to this blog so I had to go through this whole blog and update to the new dimensions which was a huge job :-). Whilst I was doing this I have added many more photos to the blog and I have also changed the sequence so that you can now read this blog as a diary starting at from the beginning rather than in a blog sequences which starts at the end.

I have also updated the Maps Stats and Cost Info and Accommodations and Distance Pages so plenty of new content for those of you that are interested.

And as I promised about 3 years ago I also will complete this story so before the end of this year I will also update the final couple of days of my trip on getting Daisy back from South America so watch this space

                                                                  

 

Panama City to Cartagena on Stahlratte,Friday, 7 December 2012 to Tuesday, 11 December,Day 157 to Day 161

Stahlratte Bremen listig to the port is Daisy that heavy

Note Monday 17th December. I am miles behind with me blog and I had have the screaming habdabs for the last week or so and it is really got bad since I left Cartagena so I may not come over as my usual cheery self as my arse is on a hair trigger and have not been able to keep much food inside me for days (Oh the joys of travel)

Anyhow back to the blog up early, as we had to be at boat at Carti Airport, which was about 110km away. So we left the Panama House at 7am ish and there was four of us Me Ryan, Paul and Dylan who had arrived yesterday. Its been yonks’ since I had ridden with a group and I guess there is a reason for that as there is so much more you need to concentrate on as well as your normal motorcycling things that you have to worry about  when you are on your own. I was at the back, which is always the most difficult place to be, as you have to take additional risk to stay in touch and keep up so thats  running reds (it was amber officer), risky overtakes that you would probably not do if your on own, ensuring no one gets between you and the group you get the idea then add in the fact that this is rush hour in an alien environment you can say I was not really having a ball 🙂 (In short you end up having to go so much faster than the bloke up the front and work much harder)

Panama City Rush Hour

Finally we got out of the city and are making progress when we come across a huge traffic jam we are running late and the usual thing to do in situations like this is try to cut through the traffic and get to the front to see what is causing the blockage. So we weave our way through the still standing traffic that looks like it been there for a while and it seems to go on forever at one stage we get some info along the lines that there may be a bridge out but as we reach the front of the jam it turns out we have just walked into a minor civilian uprising. The locals have blocked the road and are protesting about some large multinational company that has come in to the area but they did not give them any money (or something like that) and they where not going to budge until they got there 5 minutes of fame on the television. Bugger what to do. There are already some other bikers there that are also on our boat and they have been trying to negotiate whether or not we can pass as we have a boat to catch and that we are not part of the issue but no luck so far. The television crew has arrived so they are getting their airtime and we are being interviewed why I do not know. Eventually I think they got bored and had said their piece to the cameras so it looked like we could be moving soon. You can imagine miles of cars either side of the roadblock a single-track bridge it’s going to take ages before this road is clear. Fortunately for us bikers we were allowed to go first even through a few cars made a mad dash for the opening. So we passed through the roadblock to the sounds of one solitary guy shouting that the road blog was staying and they will be there until they got what they wanted fortunately everyone else had had enough and he was a lone voice.

Locals are restless

about this!

A much larger group now and I was still tailgate charley the turn off for the airport was just up the road and the boys had been sitting around for a while so I guess the testosterone must of kicked in and they where off. As mentioned before I had very little confidence in my GPS even though I had some new maps loaded now but it had not been on route all day and I had no idea where the road went so I had to try and keep up. I am getting far to old for these type of dick wagging scenarios its a gorgeous road and I would just like to enjoy it at my own pace not at some strangers group pace for all I know these guys are all trying to out macho each other and me I do not care I know how good/bad I am and I have no intention in taking any unnecessary risk (still got a long way to go) so I decided to back off and concentrate on the road and enjoying that at my own pace. I finally caught up with the group at the Kuna Indian Checkpoint

Kuna Checkpoint or toll booth

and then the final run to the port the pace had dropped considerably or maybe I was not that far of it in the first place and we finally arrived at the quay side at 10am so only an hour late and still only half of us here as the rest had also got caught up in the uprising as well.

(In hindsight I would have preferred to do this run on me own, as it was a nice road with some gorgeous vistas that should have been captured and enjoyed at a more leisurely pace)

There she is home for the next couple of days

So eventually there are 13 bikes hanging around waiting to be loaded on the boat lots are strangers to each other a few know each other sort of and these are my sailing mates so that is a large group of 22 people for the next couple of days.

Getting acquainted

Deep breath Philly practice that new mantra I like travelling in groups 🙂 (Anyone who knows me know that deep in my heart I am a loner and I struggle in a group environment especially with complete strangers seemingly its in my DNA some thing else I can blame my parents for)

Daisy make sure no one can see your knickers

  

All done with me socks on

The loading process meant getting a huge boat positioned at the end of a dodgy looking quay and then winching each bike on one after the other like a production line as we where late and the tide was going out we had to be pretty quick. All the luggage was taken off and there was loads as bikers do not travel light not clothes but all sort of other kit such as tyres petrol cans tool of all shape and sizes. (My kit is all clothes!) So as the bike came on board they are parked on the deck until we had all the bikes on and all the kit and all of the new crew members of the Stahlratte for those interested in the boat here is a link http://stahlratte.org

So tonight we will not be staying on the boat but on one of the San Blas Islands belonging to the Kuna Indians who seem to have the own autonomous state within the country of Panama. So quick-change travel bag packed and we are dumped on an island, which was fascinating, take a look at the many photo on SmugMug to get a better idea.

      

So that is day one Cor Blimey Guv this is supposed to be the relaxing part I spent the evening taking loads of photos and wandering around and getting acquainted with my new shipmates.

Up early the next day like most people lets say the accommodation was basic to say the least so folk wanted to get to the boat for some breakfast or was it perhaps it was the loo!

Still peed on the seat !

 

  

Second day snorkelling around another island, trying to remember the last time I went swimming its been a while and I do not know why as I actually like swimming and love snorkelling I guess it is the sand and getting the kit dry that is always put me of whilst travelling but had a great time even though the flippers I had on where to large. Unfortunately the coral was dead this was due to the hurricanes or nature not mankind which is a relief but a shame but loads of fish. That evening a barbeque on another island which was gezellig. And the first night on the boat I am in the bow with 3 others yep we are packed in like sardines.

bbq

(Group observation there was a load of snorkelling gear different size flippers and suddenly this got less and less and flippers where being discreetly placed out of sight in all sorts of places basically being claimed by individuals , what was that mantra Philly I like travelling in groups :-))

Day 3 same as day one I found some flippers that fit a set of the claimed ones fuck them there mine for the next hour then they are back in the shared box so someone else can use them. This time snorkelling even better at yet another island as there is an old shipwreck in shallow water to explore. Lazy day and then to another island where the Customs for existing Panama is but its closed as its Mothers Day in Panama so we will not be able to get this done till tomorrow (Note to all mothers reading this especially mine no its not mothers days as we know it in Europe but for Mary Jesus’s Mum a religious holiday so that’s me of the hook :-))

On the first night I woke up to singing I thought it was in the morning but pitch dark outside so confused. Very nice singing I should really get up and investigate but it is quite lullaby ish so just roll over and enjoy it not sure if it was a dream or real but it turned out it was real and related to mothers day.

Day 4 running late due to customs not being open due to Mothers day but we clear customs and finally set sail for Cartagena Colombia. This is where the idyllic cruise turns into an epic sea journey and into Huey and Ralph territory. The sea is quite choppy so everyone is trying to get used to the new movement, as this is what it’s going to be like for the next 30 plus hours. Well that was the theory here is the reality the engine died. Oops seemingly we have blown a valve is there a welder on board. Yes there fortunately there is (Paul Stewart please take a bow) but it takes a good couple of hours to fix and we are dead in the water with a waves coming in batches regularly but not regularly enough to get used to it so if you where feeling queasy already this was the killer blow. The fix did not last long so another one was needed so from rough just about manageable to dead in the water again for a couple more hours. Eventually we got going slow going as engine still a bit sick (the boat is 103 years old) the weathers is worse and the original 30 hours estimate a thing of the past. I crawled into my pit at 7pm and I being tossed all over the place in the forecastle and getting my feet doused in water every hour or so as a rogue wave hits the window which is open as its stifling hot but eventually I close it but it still leaks! A very long night and the good news is there is another one to go, as we are not making much speed and have lost loads of time fixing the engine. So you can say the mood on the ship is not a happy one as lots of folk are seasick to various degrees. I am just about holding it together but I am very close to being sick so it’s just a case of suck it up and we get there when we will get there at least we are moving in the right direction.

Another rough day and night you cannot do much or you will spew so just grinding out the seconds and then we are off the Coast of Cartagena Sea is calmer and oh happy days has just come on to my iTunes how uncanny is that.

Land Ahoy

Finally made it to dry land put a travel bag together and go and find a hostel I am glad to be of the boat we will sort out the bikes tomorrow.

All the bikers are staying at the same place so a small group head into town for a bank and some food and I then head out on my own as I need some Philly time and I need to be alone fuck that mantra I like group traveling

Back to the Hostel I have a shower the first decent one for a while so I am clean again we have to meet with the agent to sort Customs out at 7pm and the reason why I hate traveling in groups is that there is no decisiveness, a following mentality going to the lowest and dumbest common denominator this time it was about whether to walk or get a taxi well I lost it I been a good boy for days but I was walking and did not want to have a debate on the subject just get on and do it and of I went.

Sorted the paperwork for Customs last meal with the group at a Pizza Place and back to a bed that was not determined to kick you out of it every five minutes. I have still had not found my land legs.

This week blog I like group travel starred the following

Stahlratte crew http://stahlratte.org

The Captain Fifi or Fiedle or was it Fieter

Bobo or Boris

Floflo or Floyd

Lili or Lisa

 

The Bikers

Paul Stewart http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=809883

Dylan http://vagrantbraam.com/2012/11/30/back-to-it/

Ryan http://roameoriding.blogspot.com

Alison http://alisonswanderland.wordpress.com

Debs http://www.letterstocurlyflat.blogspot.com/

Alex and Andrea representing Romania http://www.micadu.ro/en/

Tom and Radka representing Czech

  

Joop and Alfred representing Netherlands

  

Franki and Tony representing Italy nope actually Hong Kong

Carlos representing Colombia

The Backpackers

2 Norwegian Guys

2 German Guys

Forgotten their names 😦

Featuring Thomas and Arthor guest on the Stahlratte

And of course the stars of the show Philly and Daisy 🙂

Problem with doing this so far after the fact you forget many things. My strap broke on my Trax Boxes not surprising really considering how much I am carrying. Andrea was kind enough to fix this so a big thank you to Andrea and her sowing skills 🙂

Cartagena, Wednesday, 12 December 2012 to Friday, 14 December, Day 162 to Day 164

Intimate moment with Daisy Floyd cover your eyes!

I am a bit confused on the days here but I think we arrived in Cartagena on Wednesday 12th which I covered in the previous blog and on Thursday I am up at 5am in the morning yep that is correct 5am in the morning as we had to be back at the boat to unload the bikes.

The process for this was to winch the bike into the rubber dingy and for the rider if they chose to sit astride their bike with one guy holding the front and one guy driving the dingy and then go to a crappy wooden quay where there where 3 strong Columbians who would heave the bike ashore and the rider would then have to jump on it and disappear ASAP of to the custom house as they did not want a huge crowd gathering to watch this spectacle (it is probably erring on the side of dodgy/illegal as well) If the rider was a girly wuzz he could opt to sit at the front of the boat holding the bike and let Floyd balance the bike. I chose for the latter option, as I could not bear the responsibility of anything happening to Daisy due to my lack of physical and balancing skills.

Handy 3 strong Columbians

The rest of the day was one big bore waiting around at customs to import the bikes. We where told at about 11am that the paperwork would not be ready till about 2.30pm and we been there since 7am so we went back to the boat to start getting the kit of the boat and back to the hostel and as I mentioned before us bikers have loads of kit so it was 2 people plus kit per dingy ride and taxi so a lot of work.

Finally got the bikes out of customs insurance was waiting for us back at the Hostel so I drove back to the hostel got there late in the afternoon so the day completely gone hanging around at customs but me and Daisy are officially in the country. I forgot to mention that yesterday we also spent a couple of hours getting us not the bikes through immigration.

               

I am desperate to be alone for a while as I am tired and I am not feeling  that great and as mentioned I am not a great lover of large group type endeavors so I was planning to stay in Cartagena an extra day as I had not really had the opportunity to see it yet and I thought everyone would be leaving the next day leaving me all me own 🙂 some. Nope it looks like me the others have similar ideas so it looks like it will be a bit longer before I am out there again on me own. I went for a quite meal with Fred and Joop 2 Dutch blokes from the trip this I can manage it is with larger group where I start getting irritated. It was gezellig. Back to the hostel just chilling. I found out that tomorrow there is a total motorcycle ban for the day in Cartagena so this could prove difficult for those wanting to leave.

I have the opportunity to have a sleep but I am wide-awake at 5am again bugger. I wallow around the hostel for a while and then go for a wander around town taking in the sights on my own.

Sights in Cartagena 🙂

    

The folks that are leaving have arranged a dodgy police escort to get them out of town because of the no bike ban today in Cartagena

Dodgy Police Escort due to bike ban

    

The  ban made it more pleasant to walk around. In the evening I have dinner with Paul Dylan Ryan and Alison who are leaving for Venezuela in the morning and I am heading south in the direction of Medellin and I am hoping it will much cooler there.

Cartagena to Carceres, Saturday, 15 December 2012, Day 165

Who are pretty boy then

I am finally back on the road again not feeling that great as my guts they are rotten not sure if this is due to something I had eaten or drank or is just good old fashion fear of the trip that I am embarking on. Normally for me my guts seize up when I am scared and currently they cannot be described as seized as everything I eat or drink is going straight through me so it is not fear even though I am nervous about Phillys Big Trip Part 3 more so than with the first two parts why is that as so far everything has worked out and nothing has gone wrong so I am not sure how long this good luck will last and I know a lot more than when I started so with knowledge comes doubt so I would prefer going back to being totally ignorant as that has worked well for me so far but unfortunately that is not possible.

Said Ta Ta to the remaining folks and I pulled out straight into Cartagena rush hour so needed to be on the ball from the get go doing all of this without following through as my arse was on hair trigger.

Do not remember much of the journey as I was not feeling to great and I was just focusing on surviving rather than enjoying the scenery. It was very nice once I cleared the city and I was hoping to hit the hills soon but mostly in the low lands thus still hot for most of the day. Loads of Police control points but they mainly wave me through I was only stopped once for a complete check. All the roads here are toll roads but the good news is next to each toll booth there is a special track just for Motorcyclist as they do not have to pay I am not sure if I could always squeeze through with all my luggage but thus far I have managed to. I certainly would not pay the toll, as the roads are not that good with large stretches of dirt road for no apparent reason. I did quite a long day for the first day back in the saddle and for the the condition I was in and before I knew it was that time of day when the light is gorgeous and mother nature is teasing you just to keep on going then the slut will then turn the light out in a blink of an eye and you will go from gorgeous to riding into the pitch dark. Yet everyday I still get caught napping I am enjoying the ride and the light the road and the scenery I have just past another town with sleeping possibilities I am certain there will more down the road (does this sound familiar) I realised the next town further than the minutes of daylight left bugger another déjà vu moment. When I passed a petrol station that had a hotel and a small restaurant attached to it. A stroke of luck or perfect planning you decide 🙂

All the bridges are yellow

Cheap and cheerful and a place to myself it has been a while since I have any real privacy and I am finally on my own. Huge Sigh 🙂

My guts are still playing up and the restaurant does not have a menu so I am trying to explain in Spanish that I am looking at some simple food that I can keep down. End up with some meat soup as I believe it was some dodgy meat I had in Cartagena that got me in my current predicament so I eat only the liquid and the spuds and some lemon juice/vinegar that they said may help my stomach not. The place is in the middle of nowhere but I am joined by 3 police officers (Hallo, Hallo, Hallo I could not resist that it or is ola, ola, ola :-)) who are bored shitless and on duty so they decide to use me for entertainment chatting away in bad Spanish.

I am back to the room trying to get this updated but my hearts not in it so end listen to a Spanish lesson 1 of 30 I had got from Paul and some Billy Connelly MP3 in-between mad dashes to the loo. Good to be back on the road my only wish currently is that I had some control over me bowels 😦

 I nearly forgot

Happy Birthday dear Mummy Happy Birthday to you,

Lang zal ze leven Lang zal ze leven hip hip hora 🙂

 

Carceres to Medellin, Sunday, 16 December 2012, Day 166

Cool Para gliders

I am still in a bad way when I hit the road as I have not really eaten anything for days but the good news is that I am heading uphill so finally it will be cooler. As mentioned before I am not a huge fan of the heat and being a sweaty mess all day so give me the cool and dry any day of the week as this body of mine  is not designed for the tropics.

Another day just surviving again not really appreciating all the gorgeous stuff around me I am heading for Medellin where I will rest up and try and get my guts in order but I have food poisoning and the only cure for this is time.

A couple of the highlights of the day where I spotted a whole load of places at the side of the road for cleaning bikes and cars so I pulled over and asked how much. Answer 2 dollars so that’s a snip and Daisy needed a good cleaning to get rid of all the salt water from her recent trip on Stahlratte. So I settle in as well as I could be and in the shade and  I watched two young lads go to work on Daisy. It was a joy to watch it took an hour to do the job and they basically cleaned Daisy with a toothbrush I never seen her look so good and clean. Those lads really earned there money and where very entertaining as well even though I felt that I was at death door I still managed to have a good crack with the lads at this car wash place.

  

Daisy looking spotless thanks to these two lads

Back on the road again trying to avoid puddles and dirt but that impossible so Daisy did not remain clean for long but boy did she look good for a while.

As mentioned I am now in the foothills of the Andes and after fighting my way through a road block I came across this place where they where Hang Gliding and paragliding so I stopped to watch this for while great thermals as they always managed to land back where they started and there where eagles flying with them. So very enjoyable time had watching this.

I finally hit Medellin which is a huge city at rush hour of course and  I made my way to an area where Hostels were and I found somewhere for the next couple of nights. Problem was no parking for the bike but that was soon resolved, as there was a posh hotel just down the street that had a car park that you could park in which was at a reasonable price. So I had the bed next to the loo and I knew were there was another loo if this one was occupied so I brought some soup and bread and I did not venture to far as I could still not risk it.

Medellin, Monday, 17 December 2012, Day 167

Fat Bottom Girls!

I am feeling a little bit better I manage to eat my free breakfast which is two bits of bread and a cup of coffee finally I am brave enough to venture out on the street I have me loo roll with me just in case. I can tell that I have not eaten for a while as I am weak as a kitten but it is downhill all the way to the metro station. I buy 3 tickets wow my Spanish is improving and I got the train to the far side of town where there was a cable car which was also part of the metro system that went up a hill with views over Medellin and the barrio’s below.

Cable Car part of the metro and no skis in site.

      

 

All this done at a very slow pace but I was glad to be out and about. Unfortunately on Mondays the cable car does not go right to the top of the mountain for some reason so I wander around the barrios at the top I did not venture to far as not the safest of neighborhoods loads of needles and syringes lying around and a  couple guys smoking crack so I made sure I did not go of on one my more adventurous walks and I am not sure I had the energy anyhow.

Got the metro to the center and there was an exhibition of one of my favorite artist Fernando Botero and all round one of the squares where bronze sculptures of his. Brilliant not sure why I like his work so much as I am not really in to the tubby large bottoms I prefer mine skinny but I do love his sculptures and paintings of the larger ladies. So an excellent time was had wondering round the square taking pictures and resting quite a lot. I Wandered around town for a while as well its not that pretty but it had a certain charm to the place. I had some Chicken Nuggets for lunch as this practically baby food and joys of joy I sort of managed to keep some inside me so had a little more energy but I still needed to keep stopping for a rest which was fine just sitting watching locals at work and play.

shiney knob everyone touches it for luck!

                                    

I got the metro back and into the supermarket for some tea ravioli and then a slow walk up the hill with a couple of stops on the way. I got back to the hostel exhausted but happy that I was getting better and that the day had not been a waste turned out quite good in spite of my rotten guts. I hung around the hostel, as I did not want to push my luck

Love this chap work 🙂

Medellin to Cali, Tuesday, 18 December 2012, Day 168

Lost who cares when the views are like this 🙂

For some reason I have booked into a hostel tonight for two nights and looking at the map it’s seriously hardcore to do this run in one day especially as I am just recovering from the screaming habdabs. Well there was some rational for my ludicrous planning as I had sort of arranged a service for Daisy with http://www.motolombia.com and they also owned a hostel so two birds with one stone but why in one day beats me should be doable if nothing goes wrong. Well you guessed it I pulled out of Medellin and got totally lost my wonderful GPS not doing its job properly as usual and absolutely no real detail (Note 22/12/2012 I have hopefully resolved this) so I was driving around totally lost getting no feedback from the GPS. At one stage went into this little village down a steep hill and and had all the locals helping me but they were all sending me in different directions but I figured out where I did not want to go and took it from there. Getting out of the village was difficult as the road was practically vertical wet and slippery so when I reach the top where it met the main road I had to stop as there was traffic but as I stopped the front wheel locked and I started sliding backwards downhill so much for ABS in this situation the front was locked no grip I could not get to the back brake as I needed two legs down to try and balance Daisy so the only thing left to do was give it some welly and get some forward momentum and I catapulted myself on to the main road. Fortunately for me  it was clear bloody hell its going to be a long day. I got lost again in another town and I asked a chap the direction to Fredonia he said I was in it! My GPS said it was another couple of miles down the road! Lost again GPS says turn right in 100 meters get there no road! Hit recalculate and it adds another 50 0r 80km to the distance! So that’s how my day went so the chances of getting to Cali completely gone so it was on to plan B as I always have more than one game plan but then I hit a fast dual carriage way and started chewing up the miles, I stopped for fuel and the guy said its was only another hour to Cali my GPS said two hours guess who I believed today. So back to plan A and rolled into Cali just as it was getting dark no problem as I had a bed booked.

Sure I crossed this river before!

 

I had a chat with the wife of the owner of http://www.motolombia.com about the service and she said to chat with the Mechanic tomorrow so it is time for tea. I have noticed in South America when I get of the bike at the end of day my face is absolutely filthy  and I look like I have been working at the pit face all day I am covered in soot and some of these old Diesel trucks and busses are kicking out some serious dirt.

Chinese meal huge so get a carry out so that dinner for tomorrow night sorted and I guess my stomach has shrunk (yeah right!) after not eating much for days.

On the way back to the Hostel I pass a bike shop and recognise one of the BMW as its has Belize plates so that must be Alfred from the Stahlratte and look around and I spot him. He has lost Joop his travel companion somehow and was on his own in town so I join him for dinner (no not two dinners now I am better but joined him whilst he was eating and had a soft drink and yes I am still of the booze)

Been a long day about 10 hours in the saddle so quite glad when I hit the sack it is a service day for Daisy tomorrow.