Thursday, April 4, 2013

Doing The Skinny Bit - Nicaragua to Panama

Editors note: This post was written on March 15th. We know, it’s late, but we’ve been quite busy with The Awesome. Our travels over the last 7 weeks have involved separate magical journeys at times, so we've each reported on our own adventures. Lock your office door, tell your secretary you're out for lunch, and prepare yourself for a long read. Matt will begin narration.

The Costa Rica Gang
G’day from Panama AND Melbourne! That’s right, TheMattAtleyandFergShow is currently, painfully and experimentally apart from one another! GULP I hear you all say! Is the dream over?!?! .............. Thankfully, the answer is NO! Woohoo! The wedding of my brother wasn’t something I wanted to miss, so I’ve left my bike chained to a pole at hostel in Panama City, and returned to the big brown homeland for 2 weeks. Atley, Ferg, Richie and Durham continue to wiggle the Central American wobble board to the blank-faced excitement of local tribal elders, while I regale Mum with tales of the road in her lounge room in Melbourne. The journey continues! 

In Costa Rica the coast roads actually went out onto the  beach...
The meandering Pacific Coast of Nicaragua is speckled with quality surf spots, each trickier to get to than the last, which keeps the tourists away and the bodacious hangers open for those committed enough to battle the dusty road of success to get there. Dual Sporters fall into this category simply because our faithful steeds take us to wherever we point them, rough road or not. Entonces, we get free tickets to the rad waves without even being that committed to surfing! Boom se-lec-tor! The beaches around San Juan Del Sur were in my opinion the best we’ve surfed on this trip, but as you'll read, I'm not the Johnny Utah of this show. In conclusion, I would recommend a Nicaraguan surf adventure to anyone. Particularly those of you currently staring into Microsoft Outlook with a slightly open mouth and that dazed feeling computer screens tend to give after a couple of hours. That's right Rhett, you.

Sunset swim at Santa Teresa.
During our stay at Casa de Olas, a cool hilltop hostel in Nicaragua, Atley and I finally got around to removing some broken bolts from our bikes. Annoying jobs to fix on the road, but a great metaphorical pimple to have squeezed. Mine even involved getting a shard of shattered Nicaraguan drill bit shot into my neck! Double good thanks Safety Guy! Our tyres had been crying like babies for some time to be replaced, so we threw open the bedroom door and screamed WHAT THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU CRYING ABOUT!?! and began the hunt. A morning spent in the nearby town of Rivas was not only unsuccessful in finding tyres, but during the briefest moment of our inattentiveness, some chump stole Atley’s motorbike tank bag. Right off his bike, in broad daylight, on a busy street, out the front of the motorbike shop we were all in. He lost his camera, leatherman, all his electronic cables, our SPOT GPS beacon, his spare helmet visor and of course the tank bag itself. He had a local burger-eating cop punch out a police report with 2 fat fingers on his 19th century steam-driven type writer, and hopefully his travel insurance will come through with some replacement cash in the future. With the bitter tang of burglary lingering on our lips, we motored 140km north to the capital city of Managua, continuing the laborious tyre-quest. We spent the next day circling the relaxed city, following various leads on tyres, and found some great motorbike stores and street food in the process. Alas being only presented with pizza-cutters, racing slicks or knobbies, we traipsed back down the road to Casa de Olas on bald tyres and blank minds.

Santa Teresa beach skies are tops
While we were away, Durham bailed to Costa Rica to see his girl, and Richie REPRESENTED at the remote San Juan del Sur beach breaks. There he had the most epic surfing days of his lightly documented career, while we were frowning at racks of tires in the city. Rich joined us for the 3-1/2hr border crossing into Costa Rica, then Ferg left us to head for the Nicoya Peninsula, where Durham, Bethany and Lorna were enticingly surfing. Richie, Atley and I soldiered on with Tyre Quest 6001, and headed to the busy Costa Rican capital city of San Jose. There we found my new Meztler rubber being held by the incredibly attractive female sales team at BMW San Jose, and savoured the experience of having a highly trained BMW mechanic cease his work on a shiny F800GS and re-vulcanise my filthy Japanese mule with a grin and a wink. From there we hit the industrial area and found Atley a front tyre with little effort, went back to the hostel and installed it by the pool, with rum. That evening my old friend Rosina from Fort McMurray, Canada, was passing through town with 2 of her girlfriends, so the 6 of us dined, then danced to a 12-piece funk-reggae-fusion band, to celebrate their escape from the freezing cold winter of the North.

The MattAtleyRichieCarlosandKirstenShow doing what they do best
The following day more Fort McMurruyans arrived, my good friends Carlos and Kirsten, to begin their Week-Long Costa Rican Dual Sport Adventure Madness Fiesta! Their rental Suzuki DR650 was completely awesome, the powerful little bike allowing Carlos rip past us whenever he wanted, with a surprisingly calm Kirsten hanging onto him, possibly not realising just how often the front wheel was off the ground. We left the city and headed to the hills, to be treated to some deliciously steep, remote, unoccupied pavement tightly winding up into the clouds, and over some luscious green mountains. It was a most excellent first day for our guest riders, ending with our arrival at Arenal Volcano, in a town thumping with a post-rodeo party, and hundreds of celebrating locals. Rain the following morning cancelled our plans of a volcano summit bid, so we re-shod the mules and clip-clopped out of the mountains, grinning into the high-speed corners that took us down to sweaty sea level, and the famous surf coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. On-route my front tire decided that it was sick of holding its breath and belched-forth the delicious green Slime within. A side-of-the-road patch job using saliva, superglue and silicone, supervised by Kirsten, and we were off and running again in no time. 10 minutes down the road providence granted us a well-stocked motorbike shop, with a new front tube, a tire gauge, a new headlight bulb and a patch kit. Whoever said Central America doesn’t have bike parts clearly never got off the couch.

One of many river crossings in Costa Rica.
Tamarindo was our second stop on the Carlos and Kirsten Magical Mystery Tour, and there we found average waves, delicious sushi, cold beer and a concrete table tennis table on which to do battle. Not seeing any point in stopping for choppy seas, we continued riding the next day, south, down the remote eastern coast of the peninsula. It was 200kms of slippery, dusty, rocky, exciting Dual Sporting, in 35 degree weather, on dirt, gravel and sandy roads, and we loved it. Early in the day Richie’s front brake calliper spat out a mounting bolt, but his spidey senses were on it in seconds, and found a spare in his utility belt. We crossed 4 or 5 rivers that day, the last being so deep it required The Lanky Man to carry Kirsten across, to save her shoes and pants getting wet, with Carlos watching from the other side, chewing a delicious twinkie. Late in the day the GPS led us to a beach, and no more road. We sighed, watched the waves and considered the impending back-tracking, until Carlos realised that the beach WAS the road, and took off down the sand like the local immigration authority had spotted him. The bikes squirmed and squiggled their way several kilometres down the coast, on the somewhat-hard-pack sand by the water's edge, and we revelled in yet another amazing moment of our trip. We arrived in Santa Teresa just on dusk, soaked with sweat, coated with yellow dust, tired and happy, to rejoin Ferg and Durham. There they led us to the food and the beer, where we babbled our stories to them, and they nodded knowingly, as they too had travelled the hard Nicoya Peninsula roads.

End of the gravel road, start of the beach road.
We knew that 200km of bumping, vibrating, jumping and skidding down rough roads warranted a mechanical inspection, so early the next morning the four of us poked with wrenches and fiddled with electrical tape. We found loose and missing bolts, cracked and broken welds. My number plate had cracked right across and was hanging by 5mm of remaining tin. Atley re-re-jigged his cable-tie-and-duck-tape repair from the crash in Canada 7 months ago, and largely reduced one of the 7 noises that his bike makes. Next we took a trip to the local welder’s house, where he welded up our pannier rack cracks, and pop-riveted some aluminium to the back of my number plate to give it new life. Interestingly enough his welding machine was connected directly to the overhead power-lines, so we kept our distance.

KLRs - Useful for transporting all your work needs.
You might have noticed that the bikes have been a little needy lately, demanding frequent attention, examination, care and cleaning. The similarities to girlfriends stops there however, as we’ve taken great pleasure in sharing our bikes with each other, so that we each know what the other is riding. Turns out Atley is on the rattle-monster, with constantly failing suspension, Richie’s 2005 KLR is fast, strong and dirt-bikey and Carlos’s DR650 rental bike was actually a dirt bike, perfectly suited to being airborne. My bike is smooth, heavy and low and Ferg’s blue beast is loud, strapping and eager to take on unseen potholes. I’m yet to have the chance to ride Durham’s KLR, but he gets a wistful look on his face when he talks about it, a single tear wells and he assures me that it’s as fine a mule as Kawasaki has ever made.

Tito the crocodile in Panama
With only a week to ride and various authorities to stay ahead of, Carlos and Kirsten needed to keep moving, and it was time for me to hit the road to make my flight out of Panama City a week later. The three of us said goodbye to the remaining 4 chaps, and blasted out to the ferry on super fun paved roads. The ferry took us painlessly across the Gulf of Nicoya, and we shot down the coast to the tourist haven of Jaco. There we had a chill afternoon on the beach, doing absolutely nothing, and enjoying it tremendously. Costa Rica is far more Americanised than the rest of Central America, and Jaco was pretty much the peak of it, with barely a local in sight. We were happy to get out of there the next morning, to remind ourselves we weren't in San Diego.

Showing off gods gifts.
Three over, one more to come.
I parted company with Carlos and Kirsten at the turn off to San Jose, and they headed for the airport. I went into solo mode and continued down the coast towards Panama. A violent rain storm kept me from crossing the border, but the next morning I was all over it, and got through with no hassle from the fuzz. About an hour into Panama a couple of big, loud bikes whipped past me, waving and honking. I caught up, and they motioned for me to stop after a while, so I paused for a chat with Rudy, Neil and their wives, all from the highlands of Western Panama. Turns out they are in a local bike club called Macho Monte, were heading to an inter-club get-together in the hills, and would I like to join them? Well, I was on my own, in a brand new country, and just got invited to a Panamanian bike gang meeting in the woods. “Let’s go!” I said! It was lots of fun trying to keep up with their bigger bikes for the next 200kms, and learning their various signals for potholes, overtaking and avoiding cops. We eventually found the meeting, and threw back a few beers while checking out the 50 or so bikes there. I met lots of cool people, all who were very interested in our trip, and felt very welcome amongst everyone.

The Panama Canal, joining the oceans since 1914.
The next day I finished the ride to Panama City, and was surprised to find the downtown sector filled with  tall, modern, high-rise buildings, like nothing else I’ve seen on this trip. I happily wandered around in tourist-mode, and spent the next morning exploring the Panama Canal. I found the Canal totally impressive, and enjoyed reading about the building of it, and the expansions going on. A side note for my shovel friends in the North, Bucyrus steam shovels were used to first dig the canal around 1910, and they’ve got a RH120 digging the new expansion canal right now. From there I chained my bike to the fat hostel dog that sleeps in the sun, took a cab to the airport, and have flown to Melbourne. Here, I stood next to my big brother as he got married, that made the 7 days of travel to get here were completely worth it! 

Matt in Melbourne for the wedding of his brother James and wife Leanne
From here the post will be written by the lanky man, on a specialy layed out keyboard, designed to accept lanky fingering. Pura vida amigos!

Mark Atley, writer.
Good evening, and welcome to television.

The Canadians had departed, taking with them one of the founding fathers. Ferg and I were confused, and perhaps a little scared. How would we cope with the group disbanded and segregated? Ferg responded by crawling into the space under the porch and whimpering a little; he's come out now but his fur is still all matted and he seems skittish around strangers. I wet my bed and now everyone is calling me a BAD BOY. Ferg decided that in his condition it might be best if he hung around the dust-bowl that is Santa Theresa and whiled away the hours surfing and harvesting the strange local curved fruits.

Monkey business
Richie, Durham and myself decided we might best react by riding our motorcycles at high speed down curvy, washboard dirt roads - Ferg even licked his wounds clean and happily bounded along too. We went in search of a fabled 40 metre waterfall in the nearby town of Montezuma. Once we located the donkey parking we threw an old man fistfuls of confusing local currency, mixed with US dollars for some reason, joyfully stripped off our dusty slacks and donned the 2nd most used item of the adventure motorcyclist; board shorts. Now I've said this before, and I'm sure that to a lot of you it might seem obvious, but you'll ALWAYS have a good time at a waterfall. Ruins, town squares and intricately decorated churches are fine and all, but you just can't beat a day at the waterfall. Swimming, jumping, frolicking and generally just pretending you're 12 years old again makes for a great day, and Montezuma was no exception. The 40 metre fall was indeed high (just maybe perhaps not quite that high) but a message sloppily sprayed onto the stone wall in red pa warned that jumping from this one... might be your last. We limited ourselves to the 12 metre drop, one by one stepping off the edge of a slippery rock and screaming like schoolgirls while we flew at high speed into the icy depths below.

Manuel Antonio National Park in Costa Rica
We knew it couldn't last forever, and once the high fives, bum pats and chest bumps subsided, we solemnly traded goodbyes with Ferg and the three of us turned our wheels West, in search of the freshly laid twisty blacktop RoadWarriorCarlos claimed to exist on the other side of the Nicoya. As it turns out, not all Canadians are liars, and we did indeed have a fantastic time swerving through the Costa Rican mountains. After a day of great riding, we decided to pull up for the night in a town called Cartago, just south of the capital - an uneventful and generally forgettable place. Kind of like Box Hill shopping centre.

We were all pretty keen for a ride the next day and the road did not disappoint. Up and up we climbed, burros whinnying happily, higher and higher into the mountains, and pretty soon we were riding into the clouds themselves, the temperatures dropping accordingly. We went from being sweating pigs to shivering pups in just minutes. We pulled over for some hot coco and for me to pull a 2 inch nail from my rear tyre. Bummer. Richie noticed during a cursory examination of my bike that another of my engine mounting bolts was rattling around loose. Standard KLRs. So we ripped off the fuel tank and had a good old side-of-the-road maintenance session. Buenas veces! With the steeds groomed and re-shod, we set out into the white mist once more. I had donned my electrically heated jacket for the FIRST TIME EVER, and even though it may be the stupidest thing we've bought on this entire trip, right then, at that moment, specifically, I was in heaven.

In general we were moseying our way towards the Caribbean Sea, as The New Guys had yet to see it, and after some shitty roadside burgers (Durham: "That's the last hamburger I'm ever eating") and 2 more flat tyres (that makes 3 in 2 days) we rolled into Puerto Viejo, for another taste of gringo-filled hostel life. That's when we were reminded of the number one rule of on-road living: always see the room before paying.

Exiting the dungeon
Fortunately the windowless, lightless and airless shipping container was not the only room the awful Rocking J's hostel offered, but we decided that as we'd already paid, we'd stick it out for the night. But there's only so much baggy hippy pants and talk about auras an adventure motorcyclist can take, so we quickly set fire to some refined fossil fuel, belched carcinogenic toxic gases into Mother Natures' face and put Puerto Viejo behind us.

We were Panama bound, and as per the rules for Aduana day, Richie applied deodorant and we putted over the Sixaola River on a saggy made-in-Central-America Low Warren truss bridge. Now, Aduana (customs) day is always a little trying - trying on patience, heat, hunger tolerance and Spanish language skills - then throw a general power outage in there and you've got a day that only a bottle of 7 year old, $9.50, duty free Flor de Caña can fix. 

Costa Rican Customs official
The next day was an up-before-the-sun kinda day, as we had a ferry to catch, this one heading directly into the Mouths of the Bull. We arrived at the islands Bocas Del Toro early, and spent the better half of the morning looking for a place to sleep, and in the process bumped into the one-legged, base-jumping and generally awesome guy Steve and his lovely wife Rhonda. They ran the only quad bike hire company on the island and invited us to come back that evening so they could buy us a cold beer and tell us all about the awesome motorcycle trails they had built on the island. We grabbed a quick bite to eat on a restaurant boat, surrounded by spotted Eagle Rays. The rays would jump from the water and fly through the air, flapping their huge wings as if they were trying to actively close the evolution gap. Awesome. We returned to casa de Steve and he outlined the various parts of the track, which consisted of mud, river crossings, more mud, slippery log bridges, mud, hard pack beach and then some more mud. That's right, Dual Sporting is still fantastic.

Giant Jenga is worldwide!
As Matt has indeed pointed out, owning a KLR and using it how you're supposed to, requires the operator to know how to use a spanner (sometimes called a wrench). So after a day of beach and mud riding on Steve's trails, we paid a local cave dweller with one single, flat, matted dreadlock, one shiny dollar to wash the bikes, then set about getting greasy ourselves. Awesome-Guy-Steve had offered us the use of his workshop, and when we rolled up the garage door the most unbelievably wonderful sight awaited us.

High quality, American made grinders, welders, bench drills, metal cut-off saws, electrically powered hack-saws, nuts, bolts, high quality lubricating chain wax and stacks upon stacks of mild steel in whatever profile you desired. Drool! So not to ignore such amazing good fortune, I set about making a new, stronger bracketing system for my rear tail box, which had for some time closely resembled the saggy teats of the local street dogs. Richie dived head first into the guts of his bike, removing the valve cover from the engine and replacing the rubber gasket that had been seeping oil like an infected shin wound. Durham put on a green see-through bankers visor, pulled out a pair of tweezers, a roll of electrical tape and replaced his heated grips that had burned out long ago. Just in time for some 36C Panama weather! There's just something nice about spending a day tearing the bikes apart, especially when you're sipping cold local beer and eating 50 cent empanadas delivered by an 8 year old, cooked by his mum. Yum! To thank them we took Steve and Rhonda out for a bit of Argentinean food, cooked by an Italian man from Spain, Carlos the Spitalian makes a mean steak, and all of us struggled to finish the 16oz. (450 gram) towering chunk of rare bloody meat he laid out before us.

Every Santa Teresa night was spent looking at this.
Heading back to the mainland proved a little trickier, as the only return ferry was a late one, departing at 4pm. After the ferry we pulled into the dodgy little port town of Almirante just as the sun was yawning and went to check into the only hotel in town. 'No hay camas,' the toothless hotel owner proclaimed as we rolled into the carpark. No beds. So we rode. None of us enjoy riding at night, mainly because it's dangerous, and not in the fun way either. Each of us had our own reason to hate the situation: it was raining, 68kms of twisty, slippery roads lay before us, due to the theft of my bag I only had a dark grey tinted visor, Durham has a headlight that points way too far down and Rich has one that points way too far up! But after about an hour chugging along, squinting our eyes against the rain, we pulled up to what might have been a hotel and were rewarded with clean sheets, a shower (albeit cold), air conditioning and free wifi, all for the princely sum of $15! We parked the mules in the Belgian Flower configuration, allowing us to lassoo the front wheels together with a piece of blue twine and went into the restaurant next door. We found seats but were soon meandering into the town as the restaurant hostess informed us the chef was "too drunk" to make dinner. 

Panama landscape
Over the airwaves we received word from the new groundhog (sorry Lewis) Adeline, that she had located and was currently residing in, a mountaintop jungle retreat, just south of our current location! "To the Lost and Found!" we cried in harmonious unison, Durham on falsetto as usual. We arrived at the entrance of the hidden jungle lodge to find a crudely painted wooden sign, informing us that 100 millimetre pistons, aftermarket exhausts, fossil fuel AND the ability to burn it, all incased in a Japanese made dual purpose, on-road, off-road 2-wheeled vehicle, were not at all welcome and indeed very much uncool, man. So we paid the local geese farmers at the bottom of the hill the $2.50 parking fee they honked for and trudged up the hippy trail, using our FEET. How very, very UN-dual sporting. 

Photo of something
At the peak of the 13 minute hike we were greeted by Angry Monkey. Angry Monkey was tethered to a fixed rope in order to prevent him from tearing the flesh from our faces and eating the glorious goo within. Further along the track we found concrete structures sprouting from the mountain and while we waited patiently with growling stomachs, a small German guy bumbled through a 15 minute induction process. I don't know what it was specifically, and I'm only speaking for myself here, but I instantly didn't like the place. It just didn't feel comfortable. Then the power went out. And with it the electric-pump powered water supply. Then the wind started, bringing with it cold mountain rain. Now I'm sure if I just had have given it a shot, maybe tried any of the countless hiking trails that littered the property, it could've been ok, but the stars just weren't aligning. Durham looked at me, I looked at Durham, Richi looked at an ant on the table and Adeline looked at Richi looking at the ant. "Let's get the shit outta here," Black Beard chortled. And the next day that's exactly what we did.

Hahaha. Gays.
Rich decided to do what we couldn't: stick around and give the place a go. So The Beard and I saddled up and rolled out. And we almost made it. About 32 seconds down the road we were stopped at an Aduana checkpoint, inspecting paperwork for the livestock. We obliged, and with all my important documents stored in my leg pocket I didn't even need to dismount. Unfortunately in that position, wearing a helmet, talking to Aduana Guy Numero Uno, it's tough to keep an eye out behind you, and like a greased-up eel, Aduana Guy Numero Dos slipped his slimy digits into my rear case, extracting the GoPro camera nestled safely within, and deposited it permanently out of sight in his hoodie pocket. When Durham and I finally realized what had transpired we were 30kms down the road. Despite the futility of it, we returned to the checkpoint, waving fistfuls of bribe money. We were met with steely faced claims of ignorance and mirrored sunglasses. 3 weeks of awesome footage and another GoPro bites the dust. Thank you Panama Aduana Authority, you've disgraced yourselves.

Feeling frustrated and upset, Durham and I parted ways. He was heading to Boquete, in search of The Macho Monte motorcycle club, hopefully to sell one of them an excellent condition 2005 red and black Kawasaki KLR650. I was supposed to hit the pacific coast and the reputedly "sweet as" town of Santa Catalina, but post-theft I only wanted my girl, so I pointed the round bit at the front towards Panama City, as it represented her impending arrival in the coming few days.

Apples over looking the Panama Canal.
Tips for riding to Panama City:
1). Obey the speed limit.
End of tips.

About 400kms outside of the big smoke I became increasingly aware of the police presence: shiny white motorcycles parked at either side of every small town, stalking innocent motorists and cloven-hoofed adventure motorcyclists alike. If we hadn't spent the last 6 months travelling through Latin America this would not have seemed odd, but it WAS odd. It seems clear that the majority of Mexico and Central America either don't have speed limits, or don't care to abide by them. I myself have overtaken police cars that were already speeding, to have them calmly turn to watch me pass with droopy, uninterested eyes. Which was why I was so surprised when a one of these fine fellas flagged me down. He showed me the radar. 103km/h. 3kms over the limit! I could believe it!  He then informed me that yes, before here it's 100, and after here it's 100, but here, it's 60. No 100 here. Here, there is no 100. Fortunately, in the presence of police I can't speak any Spanish, and the man with the gun strained with ever-increasing frustration levels with each of my "Sorry, no Spanish"'s. Eventually he thrust his mind back to 4th grade English class and told me the fine would be $100USD, and if I wanted, I could pay him the fine right there. Hello bribe! Alternatively I could pay in Panama City, but he would need to hold onto my drivers license until the fine was paid; lotsa paperwork he said, might never get this back he said, waving the licence. I looked from his face, to his gun, to the 1 of 15 colour photocopied, laminated drivers licenses I have, clutched threateningly in his hand. "No problems mate, I can pay in Panama City. I'll collect my licence there mate." Defeated, he thrust the fake license back into my hand and sent me on my way. Funny, he never did give me that ticket.

A reason to get to Panama city.
And now Ferg will take over to report on his month of surfing the Costa Rican coast:

Road trip excitement.
Leaving the others to continue with their dual sporting ideology, I took this time to reflect and head down to Santa Teresa, Costa Rica, for what was initially thought to be a short vacation from my vacation. As the luck spirits thought it was my time get my turn, I was staying in what can only be labelled as a mountain top paradise overlooking the common folk below. Once again I have travelled across another continent just to hang out with some boys from Melbourne. The house was escaping possibly the most dusty conditions ever imaginable on the main road below it: nothing short of a breathing mask and ski goggles was required. Linking the dusty road to fuel and paradise, were more banana and mango trees than you heart could ever desire. It didn’t take much convincing, and some creative tools, to harvest over 200 bananas for the future consumption. From then on I ate like a monkey king, but still lacked the complete hair coverage of Atley to allow true transformation back into our primate cousins.

Pool action with the sexy pink and green board. 
The perfect sized surf board for me to rent, sadly, was a fluoro green and pink number. I became unmistakable while surfing. It was like having a tattoo across my forehead, in bold capital letters, screaming “beginner”. Although, after my leash broke, and I was gasping for air, paddling frantically for the rocky shore, regretting all my choices to get out of bed that morning, the bright colours of the board made locating it smashing against the rocks an easy task... well providing I didn’t slip over…

Roads look different on the coast.
Life at Santa Teresa was the perfect way to spend three and a half weeks relaxing. My days were spent surfing, having the odd party, and attempting to have afternoon naps. I had a couple of cool road trips around the area, but found the accommodation too hobbit-sized. Unfortunately my height meant that if I was on my knees in the bathroom, I was still too tall! Sadly the time came for me to pack up my blue beast and meet up with the rest of the gang, requiring my first solo first border crossing. I made it!

Did you say chocolate Sunday???
So that gets us up to reunion in Panama round March 20th or so. If any of you have soldiered on and read this far, you'll be tired, and needing a nap before the boss gets back. So we shall bid you adieu and catch up on the remaining stories in the next post. But as a little taste, here is Atley's sign off as of March 15th:

And now we wait. We wait for The Wendy, for the boat, for the gang to reform, in a final act of motorbikiness, before hitting the clear blue water of the infamous San Blas Islands. We wait for Columbia, and finally, FINALLY, after 9 months on the road, 9 months of sore arses, 9 months of Dual-friggin-Sporting-in-your-friggen-faces...


Episode 14: Going down on Central America


  1. Great blog guys, I just did a marathon session today to read from the beginning,and can't wait for the next installment. Gord and Jean Foster's son Derek shared your blog with me hoping to inspire me for my future as a Dual sporter. I just recently bought a Yamaha TW200, and am so envious of your journey thus far.


    1. That's awesome Michelle! Ride that bike of yours as much as possible, and you'll figure it all out! Thanks!