Saturday, 19 May 2012

Crossing the Gap.

The next morning is woke up a bit late from the very tiring ride the night before.  I packed up quick and hit the road again, stopping only for a very quick breakfast.  I wanted to stop in Corcovado, which is supposed to be pristine rain forest, but urgency and the rain kept my riding.  I got to the border about lunch time and it was hot, but bearable.  It took about 2 hours to get through this one and then I rode and rode.  It got dark and I was breaking the rules again, but I was on mission to get to Panama City.  I rode over the canal in dark and didn't see anything.

At one point I saw someone waving a flashlight in the centre of the road, but I ignored it and kept on riding.  The Panama police finally caught up to me and told me that I was speeding.  The alleged infraction: a 100km/h in a 60km/h zone.  I explained that I didn't see a sign, but I was only showed the reading on the radar gun by his partner.  I asked if I could pay this "fine" there and he said yes and wrote the number 60 on his hand.  I said I would be broke if I gave him 60 and he said I could keep 20.  We shook hands and he asked my about wireless cellur networks  and metal detectors back in Canada. 

I got to Panama City in the dark and thank god I had a Hostel programmed into the GPS which led me right to it.  On the way in I helped a lovely lady bring her luggage up the stairs and it turns out she ended up taking the last bed in the Hostel!!!  haha I guess nice guys do finish last, but at least I feel good about myself.  I got directions, but it still took me 2 hours to fine the new place, and that was with the kind help of some really friendly Panamanian kids.

The hostel was clean, low key and even had a pool...very nice.  

The next day I got up late and take a little walk around Panama City.  Very cosmo and lots of large towers with some really interesting designs.

I decide it's time to chop the hair back down to respectable.  Turns out my barber name is Alejandro and he's a rider too. He tells me about bike night in Panama city tonight, but it looks like rain.  Maybe on the way home.

That night I socialize a bit at the hostel with some cool folks and set my alarm for 4:30.  I wake up at I'm out the door by 5am to dodge the traffic.

It's smooth sailing, but I second guess weather or not I've passed my turn until I get to a gravel road and pass an unmistakable landmark.

My turn off and then the road gets crappy.

Beautiful rolling hills with some fog settling in.  It feels like I'm really a long way from home.
I finally arrive at Carti.  I see Fritz the Cat, and flash my lights a few times, but the boat doesn't move.
Fritz the Cat is anchored off shore and i signal them, and wait and wait and little do I know they are having breakfast while I roast in the Sun.

Colorful clothes of the Kuna people.

As you can see, some of the Kuna's don't like having their picture taken.
After a bit of wrestling with the tiger it's finally aboard the cat and secure.  I make sure I soak it down good with WD-40.
Here's captain Fritz at the helm.

So far, things look pretty good.  The bike looks safe, the people on board seem nice and we head off into the sunset.  More again soon.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Lake Arenal & La Fortuna

April 10th I packed up the bike and headed out again.   This time for La Fortuna, Costa Rica.  I had heard the police were very strict so I was carefull to obey the posted limits.  Apparently the fine for going 100km/h in a 80km/h zone is $100 US!  Not sure if this is true, but I didn't want to find out.

Lake Arenal is beautiful.  The west side has a clay bank that gives the water an incredible turquiose hue, but it was hard to find a place to stop for a picture.

When I did manage to stop, there was some Germans pulled over trying to deal with snapped leaf spring on their truck.  I helped to put it back into place so they could wire it up and then I was on my way again.

Just as I passed the North end of the Lake, I see this little fellow on the side of the road.  I recognize the Coatimundi as I've encountered them before in the Yucatan.  Fantastic little creatures.
The typical very curious looking Coatimundi.

Volcan Arenal is impressive.

I book myself on a nature hike with a guide names Giovani and he turns out to be quite the character as you can see in this photo.
The first time I've ever seen a Tocan.
I believe it's tropical Kingbird.
Giovani proves it is possible to swing on a vine like tarzan.

We see a hole in the ground and before we know it Giovani has run and reached right into it.

He pulls out this huge frog and after showing it to us he jams it back into it's hole.
Of course no tour is complete without some Howler Monkey's which are incredibly hard to get a good picture of.

Two of the girls on the tour that were staying at my hostel.
My first tour was so great I decide to take another down the  Rio Peñas Blánca in a kayak.

Hidden up in the trees is a Oriole Snake.
Sitting on a log and looking like a leaf is the Emerald Basilisk.
Mantled Howler Monkey.
We had an excellent guide.

Our guide spotted these on a tree truck and I'm the only one that knew what they were.   Can't say they are my favorite, but definetly interesting.
If you guessed bats, you're right.  In this picture you can see these two with their heads raised up.
Very have to see, but definetly a Two-toed sloth.  Good thing we had the guide for this one because he was incredibly hard to spot.
A Green Iguana.

I can tell you this is definetly a bird, but that's about it.  Maybe an Anhingo?
Dinner with some friends from the Arenal Backpacker's Resort.  What a great place that was!
The red palms are quite nice.
I decide to start looking ahead to my crossing of the Darien Gap.  It looks like there is a 50' Catamaran leaving in 4 days.  I email captain Fritz and asking if there is room on the boat and pack my things just in case.  

Later that day I get word that there is still room aboard and head South without time to waste and it starts to rain shortly after I leave.

I ride through San Jose and choke on the exhaust.  I've been told it's a big dirty city same a most big cities, and it's comfirmed on my ride through.   I never second guess passing through without stopping.

I keep pushing on and it starts to get dark and foggy, but I feel the ugency to get further south if I want to be catch my Catamaran and keep going.  It's a long, long day and I finally reach Dominical.

I watch a bunch of drunk surfer gringos for entertainment while I eat a hambuger and finally hit the hay for a well earned sleep.