Tag Archives: dirt road

South, Central and now North

After four fantastic months of riding through South and Central America we have finally arrive to North America, upon entering the wonderful country of Mexico.

In the video below we have only covered the southern and central parts of Mexico as our final destination for this stage is Guadalajara.

With mixed feelings we catch our flight back to Santiago tomorrow.  I guess the long flight home will give us time to reflect on our adventure and write our last blog until we start our next one in May next year.

SUR , CENTRO Y AHORA NORTE

Después de cuatro fantásticos meses recorriendo en moto  America del sur y Centro America , hemos finalmente llegado a América del Norte,  entrando en el maravilloso país de México.

En el vídeo a continuación sólo hemos cubierto la parte sur y central de México, siendo el  destino final para esta etapa Guadalajara.

Ahora nos quedan sentimientos encontrados al tomar nuestro vuelo de regreso a Santiago mañana. Suponemos  que el vuelo de mas de 8 horas  nos dará tiempo para reflexionar sobre nuestra aventura y escribir nuestro último mensaje en el  blog hasta que comencemos el siguiente en mayo del próximo año.

Who Are the Garifunas?

Arriving  on the Caribbean coast of Guatemala we first went to Livingston, a small village only accessible by boat.  No sooner had we jumped out of our dugout and we´re greeted by a local chap who presented himself as a Garifuna. What the hell is that we thought? He looked ok so we went along and thought we´d find out along the way?

It turns out that the Garifuna´s are an ethnic group descended from African mestizos, Caribs and arahuacos, originating in various regions of Central America and the Caribbean. Also known as Garinagu or Black Caribs. It is estimated that more than 600,000 reside in Honduras, Belize, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

The best known story of the origin of the black Caribbean is from 1635, when two ships carrying slaves to the West Indies arrived from what is today know as Nigeria, shipwrecked near the island of San Vicente. The slaves escaped, the ship sank, and the survivors were welcomed by the Caribs, who offered protection. As it does, marriages soon blossomed and the Garifuna people were born.

Today most of the Garifuna have settled in the Gulf of Honduras which includes, Honduras and its islands, coast of Guatemala near Livingston and  southern Belize.

LIke most Caribbean communities, music is an important part of the life. The Garifuna people are no different and what great music it is. Take a listen!

Quienes son los Garifunas? 

Al llegar a la costa caribeña de Guatemala fuimos por primera vez a Livingston, un pueblo pequeño que sólo se puede acceder en bote. Ni bien bajamos de la lancha había un local esperando que se presento como parte de la comunidad Garifuna. ¿ Y qué  es eso,? … pensamos. Se veía bien, así que lo seguimos pensando que mejor seguir un local que un turista!

Los Garífuna son un grupo étnico mestizo descendiente de africanos, caribes y arahuacos, originario de en varias regiones de Centro america  y el Caribe. También se les conoce como garinagu o caribes negros. Se estima que son más de 600.000 los residentes en Honduras , Belize, Guatemala, Nicaragua.

La versión más conocida del origen de los  Caribe  negros’ es de 1635, cuando dos barcos que llevaban esclavos hacia las Indias Occidentales desde lo que conocemos hoy como Nigeria naufragaron cerca de la  Isla de San Vicente. Los esclavos escaparon del barco y alcanzaron la isla, donde fueron recibidos por los caribes, quienes les ofrecieron protección. Los matrimonios entre ellos formaron el pueblo Garinagu, conocidos hoy como Garífuna.

Hoy la mayoría de los garífunas se han asentado en el Golfo de Honduras y, en particular, al sur de Belice, en la costa de Guatemala (alrededor de Livingston ), en la isla de Roatán, en las ciudades costeras de Honduras y Nicaragua.

La música es un elemento fundamental en estas comunidades y es por eso que usamos música Garifuna en el video.

Esperamos lo disfruten

Most Dangerous Country in the World, or Not?

According to numerous studies, Honduras is considered to be one of the most dangerous countries in the world. I guess statistics don’t lie, but fortunately the only dangers we encountered were a rear tire blowout ( I got exactly 16,000km out of the Heidenau which was amazing considering the roads we’ve travelled and our gross weight) and a couple of small jelly fish stings whilst swimming on the reef!

EL PAIS MAS PELIGROSO DEL MUNDO?, SI, QUIZAS

Según numerosos estudios, Honduras se considera que es uno de los países más peligrosos en el mundo. Suponemos que las estadísticas no mienten, pero afortunadamente los únicos peligros que encontramos fue pichazo del neumático trasero (que nos dio exactamente 16.000 kilometros de la Heidenau, increíble teniendo en cuenta los caminos que hemos viajado y el peso que lleva la moto) y algunas picaduras de medusas  mientras estábamos snokeling en el segundo arrecife mas grande del mundo después de Australia.

El Salvador – Past and Present

El Salvador

There are many dangers in El Salvador, past and present. Nevertheless, it is a fascinating country with almost a third of El Salvadoran nationals living and working abroad and whom provide approximately 16% of the countries GDP through contributions payments (money transfers) which are sent back to their families in the home country.

12 years of war, 75,000 civilians dead, and 1578 billion dollars lost. There is no cruder example of this than the massacre which occurred in the village of Mezote which we had the privilege of visiting. Over 800 people dead of which half were children under the age of 12.

Present dangers pail in significant but nonetheless, need to be overcome at some point. As you will see in the video, its still not a good idea to ride your motorcycle in the streets after dark with some of the things you’re likely to encounter on the road!

However, it seems that great process is being made, which is evident in the number of foreign tourists we’ve seen exploring this wonderful country.

EL SALVADOR

Se puede decir que hay muchos peligros en El Salvador, algunos del pasado y otros del presente. Sin embargo, es un país fascinante, con casi un tercio de sus ciudadanos viviendo y trabajando en el extranjero. Durante la guerra muchos salvadoreños llegaron a diferentes países como refugiados y son ellos los que proporcionan aproximadamente el 16% del GPD del país mediante el pago de contribuciones (transferencias de dinero) que envían a sus familias en el país de origen.

Con una guerra de 12 años , 75.000 muertos , en su mayoría civiles, y 1578 mil millones de dólares perdidos. No hay ejemplo más crudo de esto que la masacre ocurrida en la localidad de Mezote que tuvimos el privilegio de visitar. Más de 800 personas muertas de las cuales la mitad eran menores de 12 años. Para aquellos que desean saber mas de esta masacre considerada como una de la matanza contra civiles mas grande de la historia contemporánea pueden buscarla en google.

Los peligros del presente son casi insignificantes comparados con los de la guerra en, sin embargo siguen trabajando para superarlos. Como se puede ver en el video, no es una buena idea andar en moto en algunas calles por la noche, nunca se sabe con lo que te puedes encontrar en el camino.

A pesase de todo , es un país que esta cambiando y creciendo de a poco, esto se ve también en el incremento en turismo que han tenido en los últimos años.
Definitivamente un país para visitar!

El Salvador – Blog Video 18 from SAMt Tours on Vimeo.

Nicaragua

Largos años de conflicto político, desastres naturales y una cruenta guerra civil, además de condiciones económicas desfavorables, han convertido a Nicaragua en el segundo país más pobre del continente, después de Haití.

En 1998 el huracán Mitch asoló Honduras y Nicaragua y ocasionó numerosas víctimas. Los campesinos y personas que vivían en la pobreza fueron los más damnificados por el desastre que provocó un daño notable en las infraestructuras del país.

Un país que todavía muestra en sus calles y sus conversaciones los restos de una historia turbulenta y las complicaciones para superarla

Nicaragua
After many years of political conflict, natural disasters, a cruel civil war,  and last but not least, unfavorable economical conditions, Nicaragua has become the second poorest country in the Continent after Haiti.

In 1998 hurricane Mitch took both Honduras and Nicaragua by surprise and the ramifications were horrendous, both from a infrastructure and humane perspective.  Farmers and those living below the poverty line were those most effected.

A country of people who converse in the streets and talk of their turbulent past and their many complications which are yet to be overcome.

Costa Rica

Como verán seguimos en la playa, esta vez en Costa Rica y con una gran influencia  de la música  y legado de Bob Marley . La cultura afro – jamaicana se deja ver en la costa atlántica del país , especialmente en Puerto Viejo, donde los fines de semana  se reúnen a jugar beisbol entre partidos locales.

Costa rica también tiene una gran cantidad de islas a donde llegan todos los años durante los meses de Julio – agosto , miles de tortugas marinas hacer su desove. Tuvimos la suerte de estar aquí en agosto y v poder verlo. Esta prohibido filmar o sacar fotos a las tortugas mientras ponen sus huevos pero si uno se levanta a las 430am puede fotografiarlas después del desove y cuando se devuelven al mar. Por supuesto que nos levantamos a las 430am y fuimos a verlas. Los huevos tardan 2 a 3 semanas en formarse dentro de la hembra. Las tortugas hacen un recorrido muy largo y con muchos obstáculos por la playa hasta encontrar el lugar perfecto para el desove., en el video se puede ver la gran cantidad de huellas de los recorridos en la arena. Los lugares para el depósito de los huevos tienen que estar sin vegetación y a cierta distancia de la costa, ya que la marea alta podría llegar al lugar de incubación y arrastrar a los huevos. Luego, las tortugas escarban un hoyo de entre 40 cm a 60 cm en los que depositan de 50 a 100 huevos. En el video se puede ver la tortuga tapando el hoyo antes de emprender su regreso al mar.

La temperatura del nido es la que determina el sexo de las tortugas. La incubación puede durar entre 40 o 70 días. Los huevos se enfrentan a peligros como perros, mareas altas, traficantes de huevos para su posterior venta, turistas clavando sombrillas o haciendo castillos de arena. Las nuevas tortugas tratan de emerger en la noche cuando no hay tantos predadores y la temperatura baja. Las pequeñas tortugas siempre esperan hasta que todas sus hermanas salgan del huevo, así salen todas a la vez dirigiéndose al mar. De las 100 solo sobreviven máximo 4.

From the Caribbean to the Pacific

As you’ll  see in the video, we continue to travel long the coastlines, this time in Costa Rica alternating between the Atlantic and the Pacific.  The legacy of Bob Marley has left a huge influence of reggae music throughout Costa Rica especially on the Atlantic coast (Caribbean) and especially in Puerto Viejo where on weekends locals come together, listen to music, play baseball, and smoke weed!
Costa Rica has miles of coast line and numerous islands much of which are inhabited by green turtles during the months of July-August when they come to lay their eggs.  We were lucky to be here in August and get a unique opportunity to view this amazing event. It is forbidden to film or take pictures of the turtles in the evening while they lay their eggs but should one get up at 4.30am (just on daylight) it is possible to record the final stages when she is covering her eggs and getting ready to return to the water. The eggs take 2-3 weeks to form inside the female. Turtles make a very long journey with many obstacles along the beach to find the perfect place to lay her eggs.  In the video you will see the large number of tracks which have been left by the turtles during the night. The turtles dig a hole between 40 cm to 60 cm in diameter and then deposit between 50 to 100 eggs.

The nest temperature determines the sex of the turtles. The incubation may last from 40 to 70 days. The eggs face dangers from  dogs, high tides, eggs dealers, tourists umbrellas and kids making sand castles. Of each 100 eggs only a maximum of 4 survive.

Quite fascinating really!

Panama – small but vast

The first thing you notice about Panama are the vast contrasts.  As we arrived via San Blas on the Caribbean side, we were surrounded by isolated islands run by local indians,  dirt roads and dense jungle.  After riding just a mere 70km or so, and upon approaching Panama City, you come across your first McDonalds followed closely by Burger King and KFC. Moving along you´ll ride past a shopping centre which could easily fit straight into any developed western city.  After riding past the 15th McDonalds we finally arrive to Casco Viejo, the historical part of town.  Casco Viejo, going through a well deserved face lift as the wealthy return after leaving it to the lower class and squatters for the past 20 years or so.  Interesting to see a multi million dollar building located right beside a 6 story block full of squatters!

No visit to Panama would be complete without a tour to the Canal. Thanks to Marco, who came on tour with us in Chile /Argentina, we received a VIP tour of the Canal. Bloody amazing to think they completed this huge feat at the beginning of the 1900`s. In the video we have sped up the footage x 4 , in the scene in which they are lifting the boat by raising the water level. This will give you an idea of just how quick the process is.

From Panama city we met up with one of our friends and SAMt customer who kindly invited us to his weekend home in the hills. Great relief to get away from the heat for a while.

After a few relaxing days in Boquete, we headed towards another set of Caribbean islands called Bocas del Toro.  Again, the contrasts were vast from the poverty stricken villages spread along the banks of the river which lead us towards the spectacular archipelago lined with world class sailing cruisers and yachts.

Motorbikes aren’t made to swim

There’s just 3 ways to get yourself and the motorcycle to Panama from Colombia.

The first and second are the normal channels. Use a customs broker and either fly or ship the motorcycle and catch a flight yourself. The third, to find a yacht which takes backpackers to Panama via the San Blas Islands. Transporting passengers to and from Panama on these yachts is legal but transporting cargo is a very different story.

Unfortunately for us, a catamaran transporting roughly 16 backpackers and one motorcycle sank off the coast of Colombia about 2 weeks before we were due to sail. Whilst the people were saved by a passing vessel, the bike wasn’t so lucky!  Can´t imagine how the owner felt watching his bike go to the bottom of the Caribbean as it was pushed over board in an unsuccessful attempt to save the boat. (that black thing you can just see on the right hand side of the stern is the bike)

Anyway, this caused us a problem as customs decided to clamp down on this practice and prohibit any motorcycles to be transported under this method. Their argument (which makes perfect sense) was that the loading and unloading of the motorcycles onto these vessels was unsafe ( believe me, as i found out later, not a truer word spoken!), that due to the lack of inspections drugs could be easily smuggled with the motorcycle (well it is the drug capital of the world after all) and thirdly, none of the vessels are designed to carry cargo.

Whilst all the above points are extremely valid, we would have lost at least 2 weeks if wehad to change our plans. Therefore we lobbied for three days at the port authorities and customs offices until we finally broke them at 4.30 on Friday afternoon. The boat was to depart at 8.30 on Saturday morning.

 

The excitement continued –

-Getting the bike onboard : more than once I though, how the hell could the Port Authorities allow us to do this!  With the bike onboard, relief was short lived upon seeing the rusty tie-downs the Captain expected me to use.  Needless to say, I had to make a quick trip to the hardware store.

 

 

– A visit from the water police to inspect all the documentation of the passengers and motorcycle and of course, drugs.

 

 

– And of course, getting the bike out of the boat at the other end!

 

 

The trip was an adventure in all senses. We were lucky enough the share the adventure with 19 young travelers (we were the oldest on board apart from the Captain) of which about 8 were Australian.

 

Young people make you remember what its to the live the moment rather than concern yourself over the future. Nothing wrong with that for a while.

 

Hope you enjoy the video footage below

El primer esclavo libre en colombia

Esta parte de colombia fue muy esperada por la historia que tiene. Monpox un pequeño pueblo aislado por un rio que se cruza en balsa y con un sofocante calor constante – Quedó la población como una isla encerrada por los brazos de los ríos  Loba y Mompox, apartada e incomunicada, de difícil acceso. Se dice que ahí reside una de las razones para que de Mompox se diga que es un lugar donde el tiempo se ha detenido. Pero es también a partir de esa circunstancia de aislamiento que fluyen los atractivos y la curiosidad para conocer la isla y rendirse a sus lugares.Años atrás fuera de la isla se encontraba la FARC esperando turistas extranjeros o colombianos con poder adquisitivo político para su secuestro – Y Palenque otro pequeña reliquia histórica de Colombia con la estatua del primer esclavo libre en el país según cuentan los locales  – la foto lo dice todo – el pueblo y su gente no han cambiado mucho sus costumbres …definitivamente el highlight de Colombia

THE FIRST FREE SLAVE IN COLOMBIA

We anxiously waiting to see this part of Colombia for its unique history.  Mompox, a small isolated village (predominantly black) which we could only reach by crossing a series of rivers in suffocating conditions due to the heat – was only a few years ago a hunting ground for the FARC (Colombian Guerrillas)  in the sense that it was a preferred place to carryout kidnappings of both international travelers and important Colombian figures such as politicians.   However on the positive side, and the reason why we visited, Mompox is renown for a place were time stood still for many years due to its isolation. Today it is still visible in the building and the behavior of its inhabitants.

From there we move on to Palenque, another small village rich in history.  A statue of the very first free black african slave stands strong in their modest plaza. The photos says it all.

This small village has changed its customs little over the years and was definitely a highlight of our time in Colombia

Crossing the middle of the world

Two countries full of contrast are Ecuador and Colombia.

From the colourful market places, to roads flanked by fully armed combat soldiers to the very well developed mannequines in the shop fronts.

Watch the video and you’ll see what I mean

Cruzando la mitad del mundo

Dos paises bien distintos

Saliendo de Los coloridos mercados locales de ecuador para entrar en una carretera plagada de soldados del ejercito de colombia y unas ciudades donde Los locales exponen en sus vitrinas unos mannequines que representan muy graficamente las formas de las mujeres colombianas