Monday, April 30, 2007


Today is Day 62 and...
We have visited 10 countries.
I have clocked over 5,000 miles on my bike since day 1.
Our longest riding days have been 7 hours (and around 350 miles); our shortest 1 hour, and we have never stayed off the road more than 3 days.
The most expensive hotel we have stayed in cost $72 (Quito, Ecuador), cheapest cost $15 (San Vicente, El Salvador), and best cost $50 (Granada, Nicaragua).
The most money we have spent in one day was over $1500 which included the cost of shipping our bikes from Panama to Ecuador, the least we have spent in one day is $60 including gas, meals and hotel.
We have ridden through altitudes of over 13,000 feet.
Coldest temperature we have encountered so far has been 45 degrees F, hottest 95 degrees F. In one day, we went from 91 with full sun and humidity to 50 with fog and rain, to 85 back to full sunshine and humidity in Ecuador.
I have gotten sick from food 1 time, Kevin has gotten sick 2 times (one of them can be described as ¨violently ill¨!)
I´ve had my heart in my throat at least 5 times, once while we were crossing the river from Frontera, Mex. to Bethel, Guate. in a rickety raft with our bikes, and the rest of the times have been while driving on mountain roads and trying to pass buses or other huge vehicles on two lane roads.
I´ve cried 6 times: twice out of frustration with myself and my poor riding skills, three times out of frustration with Kevin, and once as a technique to garner sympathy from a border guard in Guatemala in order to avoid paying a $100 fine (it worked!)
Kevin and I have had 3 arguments, and in the end all has been resolved through good communication and loving kisses.
I have fallen 12 times, and the bruises from the last fall(s) one week ago are still present, Kevin has fallen 3 times although I have only witnessed one of them.
Three screws have fallen off my bike, and two parts have been deliberately sawed off.
On one, and only one, occasion I have contributed to road kill. (More on this later)...
So, that is our trip so far by the numbers, and it all adds up to some great memories captured in over 700 pictures and counting!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Top Ten Ways you know you're riding your Motorcycle in the Andes

Top Ten Ways you know you’re riding your motorcycle in the Andes:

1) The road up and down looks like 23 “z’s” stacked on top of each other.
2) You’re looking down at clouds.
3) You’re also looking down at planes.
4) When you ask someone how many kilometers to the place you’re going, they
shake their heads and say “it’s not the kilometers, it’s two to three hours” and you
know you are at most 15 miles away.
5) No insects!
6) You are riding on a stone road clearly laid by the Inca’s that is more grass than stone.
7) Your 1200 cc motorcycle has as much power as a 250 cc at sea level.
8) You get chased by dogs rabid from the altitude
9) Every 10 minutes you want to stop and take a picture because you see the most
beautiful scenery you’ve every encountered.
9a) Despite being at the Equator you have your electric handwarmers on.
9b) You have to “pop” your ears 7 times in half an hour because of the elevation changes.

10) If you fall down while riding through the loose gravel cutbacks, empty valleys,
Rain soaked grooved dirt roads, stony rivers, towering pine forests, or mountain cliffs: NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM!!!

By the way...

Here is where we will be traveling for the second leg of our trip: South America.

With our heads in the clouds.

Here are some images from the Quilotoa Trail which had such majestic and spectacular views that we stopped just about every 10 minutes to take a picture!

We drove up to an altitude of over 13,000 feet above sea level and found ourselves enveloped in thick fog many times. We stayed in a hostel aptly named the Cloud Forrest where we met a number of other adventurous travelers from all over (Israel, Czech Republic, Australia and the US) and we had a nighttime visit from some local girls who performed a couple of beautiful dance numbers.

While we try to take the best pictures we can, this is truly an area of the world where the camera just cannot capture the true essence of what we saw. But something is better than nothing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Eating humble pie once again!

Today I fell a grand total of three times, the first one no less than one minute after leaving the Cloud Forrest Hostel this morning! It was a steep slope with deep grooves, loose gravel and a tight left turn, blah, blah, blah, you know the deal! I´d been having such great rides the past week or so, and I was truly happy with the way I had been rising to challenge after challenge on all kinds of different roads under various weather conditions. But nothing brings me back down to novice rider reality than falling in front of an audience of local onlookers and not being able to pick up my own bike without their help. So, after that sendoff, I had a bad feeling in the pitt of my stomach that this was going to be ¨one of those days¨. I tried hard to shake the feeling for the next hour or so, but I felt so angry, humiliated and stupid. Finally, after riding successfully through challenging dirt road mountain terrain for about two hours I was feeling better when we suddenly had to come to an abrubt stop on a banked curve and BAM, over on the side I went again.

The reason we had to stop short was because there was a huge mountain of dirt accross the road demarking the point where a bridge was under construction. Kevin got off his bike to come help me with his usual mix of concern for my well being and puzzlment at my bizzare instability at 0 speed. ¨What happenned?¨ he began, but backed off when he saw the daggers in my eyes. So having agreed not to talk about the second dropping incident of the day we turned our attention to inspecting the makeshift wood bridge that we were faced with crossing if we wanted to continue on our current trajectory. We decided after much consideration that although daring to cross the bridge and take the bikes up the super steep and muddy embankment that immediately followed would make for good video, it was not worth the potential headache should anything go wrong and one of the bikes ended up in the water with Kevin under it. (At this point I´m sure you have guessed that it was Kevin who would have been responsible for riding both bikes accross.)

So, we asked a lady to point us in the direction of the detour that would eventually lead us back onto the road we would have been on had we crossed the river and off we went. The road was muddy and narrow but very manageable. So, it was quite a blow to my already bruised ego and knees when less than 100 yards away from getting back on the main road I attempted to cross a deep puddle by skirting the right side and ended up on my back, with my left foot pinned under the rear tire of the bike and the front tire of the bike tangled in a barbed wire fence. As far as I was concerned it was total defeat. A great picture opportunity too, but to Kevin´s credit, his first instinct was not to reach for the camera but to reach for me instead. He lifted the bike to release my foot and then looked at me with a tender look that told me that he knew just how badly I should be feeling at this point. I took a breath and a moment to compose myself and then proceeded to help Kevin untangle my bike from the barbed wire. We had a bit of a laugh about wether ït would be OK to take a picture the ¨next¨ time I was in that predicament and then continued our ride. The rest of the day went smoothly as we completed the Quilotoa Loop (AKA the Inca Trail) and made it to the city of Ambato.

Here in Ambato we encountered a very nice guy who owns a bike shop when we stopped to ask him if he knew where we could get our bikes washed. He started to give us directions but then decided that it would be easier if we just followed him there. So clearly eager to take a ride he gathered his keys and bike and played guide for us for the rest of the afternoon. First we asked him to take us to a laundromat where they dropped me off so I could wash all our clothes since we were down to nothing clean. Then he and Kevin drove off to find the bike wash. They returned two hours later on a clean bike to gather me and the clean clothes. Kevin and I thanked him profusely after he dropped us off at our hotel.

After taking a hot shower I sat down to inspect the purple bruises developing on my knees and discovered two golf-ball sized bumps sprouting, one on each shin. Ahh, I´ll be glad when this day is over!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

To the ends of the world.

Today, we planned to go to Otavalo, a city north of Quito famous for one of the largest and oldest crafts markets in Latin America.

At some point Kevin and I took a wrong turn which led to another and so on and so on and a trip which should have taken about one hour ended up taking us four! Although we both knew at some point that we had clearly taken the long way round we were OK because we were each having a blast!

On the road today I ran into many old friends whom I hadn't seen in a long time. First, I ran into my nemesis Dusty Road and to my delight he had brought along his friends Loose Gravel and Deep Grooves. We had a great visit for about an hour during which old differences were buried, and a new, healthier, more equalitarian relationship was forged. Then, soon after Dusty's sister appeared: Muddy Road. Coincidentally she had also invited two friends to join the party; namely Thick Fogg and Rain Showers. I was very proud of myself for having behaved like a perfect badass-moto-lady during each of these unexpected visits. In fact, to Kevin´s delight I was even heard letting out a number of woo-hoos throughout the ride!

In the end, we made it to Otavalo, wet, muddy, and a bit cold but with huge smiles on our faces on account of the great fun we both had on the amazingly picturesque roads we traveled to get here.

We walked the marked for about an hour and Kevin bought me a beautiful hand-made wool sweater.

We found a hotel, had dinner and shared our first bottle of wine of the whole trip at a nice restaurant.

We are now in bed at our hotel and Kevin has passed out next to me with his arms wrapped around me, right now life is good!


Friday, April 20, 2007

Mitad del Mundo

Knock knock

Who,s there?

Northern hemisphere.

Northern hemisphere who?


WE Visited the total tourist trap of mitad del mundo today about 10 miles from quito after we finally got our bikes from customs. Everything is in good order although the bikes are definitely down on power because of the altitude.

We stopped by the BMW dealer who fixed my tailight issue and put air in our tires. A really nice guy (I think his name was Energerio or similar) hooked us right up. Big thanks!

The people are very friendly and things are quite inexpensive. We are having dinner at all you can eat mongolian bbq for 5 bucks and .99 cent mixed drinks in the tourist area of town. Gas is $1.50. Beautiful pottery, jewelry, leather and woven items and very few gringos.

We happened by a casino which happened to be having Columbian week, and is also hosting the third annual national texas hold em championship so of course I'm going to play starting tonight at 9.

Wish us luck!

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Back on the road...almost.

Well Kevin and I arrived in Quito, Ecuador last night after a very long day of traveling; woke up at 3:30am to catch a 5:30 flight which we almost didn't make because of an upgrade snafu. Landed in Miami around 9am and took advantage of a six hour layover to spend quality time with my brother Mariano who turned 28 about a week ago.
So, today has been spent tracking our bikes down and getting all the paperwork done to get them out of customs. We've also had a bit of time to visit the histrocal section of this capital city. Among the interesting sights there was the unfinished basilica which was begun in 1926! And I thought the big digg had taken a long time.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Last day in Central America---Thanks to our Companeros!

I would just like to take a quick minute to thank everyone so far who has helped us along the trip. I am writing this off the top of my head as we get ready to fly away in a couple hours, so I apologize if I don't remember everyone.

The picture above is Miguel, the machine shop guy in Mexico who made up our special bracket for us in less than 2 hours for 10 bucks or so. Then of course is Garry and his wife Yvonne in Mexico City who introduced us to the land of the Mariachi's and many other things, Yarelli in the town square the greatest marketer in the world who sells corn husks sprinkled with cheese to kids and gave us free samples, Lou in Panama who treated us to dinner overlooking the Panama Canal, Nestor who was a HUGE help to us at Girag in Panama helping us get our bikes headed to Ecuador, Sam who lent me his surfboard to surf Yanqui beach in Nicaragua, Pedro who helped us fix and weld Clara's motorcycle at 5 pm on a Friday and who only asked for $3, of course Luchini who was hilarious and showed us around Boquette and bought us lunch, the woman and her cute and shy son who showed us around what soupcon things there were to see in San Vicente, El Salvador, Deb and Dave in Dominical, Randall the TICO doctor on the KTM who filled us with information about South East Costa Rica, as well as the
BMW riders club of San Jose.
There were more than this of course, I just wanted to say thanks!

The only people we don't want to say thanks to are the person who backed into my bike in the parking garage and crushed my oil cooler and fiberglass nose of the bike,
and to the cop with the name tag "E. Sanjur" about 20 miles from Santiago, Panama who pulled us over for going 110 kilometers and hour in an 100 kilometer an hour zone and then shook us down for $5. You give Panama, and cops a bad name.


Sunday, April 8, 2007

Real Motorcycle pictures, not wussy rainbow pictures



I'm not a superstitious person. My background in physics and philosophy together with a Catholic upbringing sometimes leads me to get on self-contradictory arguments in my head between multiple points of view about the nature of God and the Universe and the Big Bang. Especially on long stretches of straight highways without variation of terrain. I am yet to resolve anything.

But I do have one quirky connection to what I hope is the heaven's above, or at least to remembering a good person from my past, the way I believe many would like to be remembered. That connection is channeled to me thanks to the breakthough of LCD's in the mid part of last century. Liquid Crystal Displays which allow us to know the exact time, as opposed to a shadow from a stick perpendicular to the ground compared to a line drawn in the sand. In my case, it is the time 10:01. Whenever I see that displayed on a timepiece I feel strength and energy, the power to stick to my guns, do the right thing, to try and be the best I can be, to question everything and try and make the world a better place. All thanks to my old fraternity brother Mark Schneider.

Mark was a year older than me, we met in 1984 at Wabash College where we became pledge and fraternity brothers at Phi Kappa Psi our freshman year. We became friends, as many of us Wally's did through our shared classes, activities and hijinks. Mark was a very thoughtful person, with a quick, strong, biting wit, who read with a passion, played hackysack and whiffleball, and was a defuser of situations, definitely the "why can't we all get along type". He was about 6 feet tall, with thin medium length brown hair, average build, and occasional scraggle of a beard. He had a love and knowledge of music of all types, and we would trade albums, tapes, thoughts and information constantly. We also would talk politics, communism, capitalism, socialism, with both of us sharing a strong sense of social justice.

When he was in high school at North Central in Indianapolis Mark started a student newspaper that questioned different school policies, priorities, and poked fun at various high school related things. He crossed the wrong people with the power of his pen and was expelled for exercising his first amendment rights. The ACLU took up his case and he was restored to the proper place in his public high school, with all the rights and priviledges due to every teenager, and citizen, in the United States.

Mark's family was medium large, working class, with five or six siblings looked after by his mother as I recall. One of his brothers worked as a band manager for local rock and roll acts. One of the acts that he managed was a band named 10:01, and Mark had one of their "concert" T-shirts a fairly non-descript black shirt, with some white squiggly lines and "10:01" printed across the chest. Nothing special about it, the band I had never heard of, nor have I to this day, nothing cool about the design, only significant because it was a shirt Mark wore.

Near the end of our freshman year, I invited Mark to come to Boston with me for the summer, a place he hadn't been. Neither of us had jobs, but my mom was willing to let a friend stay with us and see what came of it. I will never forget the 16 or so hour overnight drive from Indy to Massachusetts, where we stayed awake by a long game of Alphabet Rock N Roll. The game was simple: go through the alphabet one letter at a time, for each letter the two of us would alternate naming a band that started with that letter of the alphabet. The person who couldn't name a band during their turn would lose that letter of the alphabet. The timer was the radio; if someone couldn't name a band in the amount of time that a whole song played on the radio, they would lose that letter. So, for A we would go Aerosmith, ABBA, Aldo Nova, Allman Brothers, Asia, A Flock of Seagulls....with discussion about the merits of any group named, favorite songs, or anecdotes superceding the game at any and many points. I'm not sure who won, or even if we got all the way to ZZ Top, or even X, but we certainly stayed awake all night and arrived safely on the East Coast.

We, especially me, went through a few jobs that summer. One job we tried was selling pots and pans, Mark opted out the first day, I took a few days longer to give up the ghost. Mark, true to his nature, ended up working for MASSPIRG which is a non-profit organization that raises money to advocate for environmental causes. It was a tough door to door job with a lot of rejection and not much money, but offered Mark a chance to meet and talk with many people and advocate for something he believed in. I eventually did some painting and carpentry to help pay for school, not much of note. One weekend a friend of my mother's in Concord, MA organized a house painting party which Mark and I got roped into helping out with for the day. Mark happened to be wearing his 10:01 shirt that day, and someone snapped a picture of us in the yard sitting in the aluminum and nylon lawn chairs of the day. Both so youthful, long hair, ill fitting and looking clothes (me especially!), yet both full of potential. I still have that picture, on the top of a clothes drawer in my bedroom.

We returned to Crawfordsville, IN, home of Wabash, in the fall and enjoyed a great year. The Little Giant Football team was strong, Mark was studying English, I was filled up with Physics and Math courses, we had a great group of guys at the frat house which ended up winning Intramurals, and enjoyed many other fun events and hijinks filling our time as we all prepared for bright futures.

The following summer I returned to Boston and worked for hi-tech company Bolt Beranek and Newman working with the advanced programming group on something that has never really reached its potential called the internet. Mark ended up going to the Caribbean to visit his aunt and cousins. One day when they were driving into town, their car was hit by a truck. Among the many casualties was Mark Schneider.

Since then whenever I see 10:01 I think of Mark up there looking down on me, asking questions as he always did: "is what you are doing significant?",
"are you doing the right thing?", "are you caring for the planet and those less fortunate than you?". I also seem to see 10:01 at odd times, or times of conflict, or self-doubt and it is a reassuring message I receive. The message seems to say "you may not have won, but you did the right thing", or "have strength you are not alone, and you are on the right path". Sometimes I see 10:01 when things are going well, and it is a pat on the back, and a reminder that I get: "congratulations, you worked hard for what you achieved, but you can do even more!" Finally, at times it is just a reminder of how fleeting life can be, to live it to the fullest and the best, with no regrets for what I've done because I did so consciously and knowlingly of my own free will, as Mark appreciated more than most.

A few years ago I went back to Wabash for a big football game and for a fundraiser to renovate our fraternity house. There was a communal breakfast in one of the school buildings and about a hundred Phi Psi alumni were on hand. The previous year in the Monon Bell game against our arch rival, on the final play of the game a Hail Mary pass was thrown from the quarterback, and tipped from one reciever into another reciever's hands to win the game on the final play. It was probably the most exciting play in over a hundred years of football at Wabash and they had ordered a limited number of replica footballs from that day and had them signed by the three players involved. That morning they were raffling one of the balls off among all the alumni in attendance. As the wife of a prominent Wabash person stuck her hand into the hat and handed the slip to our fraternity brother, a smile crossed his lips as he said "this is probably very appropriate that it should go to Kevin!" as he threw a spiral across the room to me in my Red and White striped Wabash Overalls. There was good applause and we had great fun throwing the ball around, then later as we beat our rivals again. Later, as I was on my connecting flight to Boston out of Chicago I finally had a chance to relax and enjoy the great weekend I had seeing old friends and fraternity brothers, some not seen since I left school. As I was reminiscing, I looked at the football closely for the first time. Unbelieveably, on the back of the football, in large numbers was stamped 10:01, apparently the model number of this officially sanctioned NCAA football. Mark had been there, with me, with us.

Why write about this now? I've told a few friends about this over the years, usually people that also knew Mark. As I traveled over the bridge from Mexico to the United States, when this adventure truly began I happened to look down at the console on my bike where 10:01 was displayed on the digital clock. Sure enough, on the biggest trip of my life Mark was right there with me, indicating that it was the right thing to do, to see the world, to meet it's people because without seeing the problem you can't always fix the problem. Oddly enough, in Belize where Clara and I were having a rough time I saw 10:01 three days in a row reminding me then of being the person I hope to be, to affect change, to show compassion. Finally, this morning as we woke up in this beautiful house on April 4, 2007 with nothing but a day of relaxation in front of us, 10:01 showed on the blackberry telling me the day had finally come to memorialize what a great, idealistic person Mark was, how much he meant to me and still means to me, and maybe to get others to take a moment and appreciate some of the good people in their lives, how lucky most of us are to be where we are, and to think about how to make the world around us better.


Friday, April 6, 2007

Death and Cooking

I just took a shower as Clara went to start cooking. Sure enough the first bee of the evening has appeared.

I will quickly sumarize the past two days. 11 kills the first night, 4 or 5 on night two, with no known source of entry. We went to town this morning to garner more information and found out a gringo was killed 6 days ago twenty miles south of here by killer bees.

I checked the web and confirmed what I knew and discovered more. They do attack the head in swarms, and when they sting the stinger comes out, killing the male bees and giving off a pheromone that smells like banana's that enrages and attracts the other bees to join the battle. They can stay antagonized for 24 hours and attack up to a quarter mile from home base. They are attracted to aromas such as fresh flowers and cut grass which explains why they come for our dinner.

We have discovered that they could care less about motorcycles parked in the driveway. However, if you want to wash that motorcycle they will join you in examining every nook and cranny, although they seem willing to share. As long as they get first dibs. So, you can clean the front wheel while they inspect the seat. But if they see you having too much fun, then they want to play with the front wheel and make you go to the back seat. And let me tell you when you are within plain view of over a 100 of his buddy bees just forty or fifty feet away, on a beeline, to use a figure of speech, there is no discussion or backtalk with them about who gets to play with which bits.

To sum up, they like light, they like the smell of food, they don't like gringo songs from the past 25 years, they drown themselves in pasta sauce, and they can appear out of nowhere.

As I just wrote that last paragraph, one just crawled up from the sink...could they be coming from the vent pipes??? This is getting scary, I've already introduced 3 of them tonight to the pleasures of Cristina magazine, but what could happen in our sleep....meanwhile, we still hear the pinging on the windows....and another just arrived....

We are all alone on the hillside, no lights, no sound, no food, no outside ventilation, we stay downstairs to be further from the multiple hives in the eaves....Clara thinks we maybe in a reality TV show, I hope we survive, "Killer Bee Killed!"

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Living (so far!) With killer bees

Tonight will be our third and final night with the killer bees, one way or another!

Using the scientific method we have been discovering more and more about the most aggressive insect in the world.

In my youth I saw a special on them and had some vague recollections of their habits. As we cooked pasta the first evening I was doing everything I could to jog my memory because they kept appearing in the kitchen seemingly out of thin air.

I seemed to remember that they swarm in huge numbers when attacked, and they had some sort of scent that when one dies others pick up the distress. I knew they could be deadly although it wasn't common.

I had points 1 and 3 in mind as we readied our meal. We had the lights on in the kitchen and the huge living room with the 25 foot wall of glass. The occasional African bee would ping off the glass. When the first bee showed up in La Cochina (kitchen) to check out the sauce I started wondering about point 2. We didn't do anything for awhile, and no others showed up. Clara was a bit disconcerted with the buzz around her head, so when he landed on the fridge he got swatted.

Shortly thereafter another one showed up. They seemed to be attracted to the lights, similar to a moth and would land on white surfaces such as the refridgerator and the tile backsplash. After these observations, I decided to turn the living room lights off which led to a great reduction in the pinging sounds.

I then swatted the remaining buzz bomb. Who was shortly replaced by another, who suffered a similar fate. Then another. Then another. We were starting to get worried about these Hydra-like winged warriors. We couldn't tell where they were coming from, especially with all the lights off, but they definitely were coming.

Thinking that vibration may annoy them (as we had been warned that they don't like motorcycles) I turned off the cd player with the eclectic collection of two cd's: the greatest hits of, respectively, Randy Newman and the Waitresses. I guess I could understand that music ad infinitum getting anyone or anything riled up!

That slowed them down, but they still kept coming, one by one, each meeting the same fate. We turned off the recessed lights in the kitchen as dinner was ready to be eaten, and I discovered the microwave light worked. There was soft lighting but the ambience was not romance but rather a multiple bee arrival away from hysterics.

Finally Clara saw a couple crawling in under the window which I swatted before they took flight, then I quickly stuffed full of paper towels which kept them at bay for the rest of dinner. I remember during dinner that they attack the head and face but I decided not to share that thought as it was inappropriate dinner conversation.

I'd like to stress at this point that I had killed all of them on the first swat with the rolled up Cristina magazine, the latin version of Oprah a Cuban woman with talk shows, mags, etc. But I digress. I didn't want to anger any of them before they met their Holy Week fate.

As we went to bed we made our defense plan in case of massive overwhelming force attack. We would barricade ourselves in the interior bathroom, putting a towel under the door as we filled up the tub with water. When the tub was at capacity we would jump in together and breath through straws until they lost interest with us. A great plan I thought although clara was a bit dubious. As we fell asleep I wondered if we had any straws....

(More later about our discovery with bees, but a hint is that they like Prego spaghetti sauce)
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Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Personal thoughts and a BIG Thank you!

As the sun is setting on the first leg of our trip (Central America) and we are getting ready to move on South America, I want to take a moment to thank Kevin for having invited me to share this trip of a lifetime with him and for having confidence in my riding abilities. He continues to amaze me with his patience, his strength, and his generosity and I am having a blast as his partner and sidekick!
Gracias Big!!!

Official drink of the BIG Trip.

Kevin thought he was dreaming when he saw his first BIG Cola in Mexico (Kevin's motto: "Think BIG, Be BIG") and by the time we got to Costa Rica he could no longer contain his desire to be photographed with a BIG Cola billboard and to drink as much of the stuff as he could.

Arts and crafts on the road and no pot of gold yet...

I made Kevin a palm grasshopper (the white-water-rafting guide taught me), and we saw a full rainbow one day in Costa Rica.

Volcano Arenal in Costa Rica

Wow, what a sight this volcano and it's surrounding lake are. Getting to this place has been one of my favorite rides so far. We stayed at a cute cabin with a view of the volcano and even got to see this live volvano spewing lava our last night there, is was pretty cool and amazing.

Motley Crew from around the world.

This is picture of Kevin and myself along with our new "soulmate" Tim James Morgan and our new "kiwi" friends Josh Forde and Jonathan Bogacki. We ran into all these guys (and two Canadians going the other way) at the border between Costa Rica and Panama. We all rode into Panama together and had a fun lunch talking motorcycles, relationships and hos much one of the kiwis (can't remember which one, oops) looks like Nicolas Cage in Raising Arizona! I want to mention that as we were ridding into Panama, we were in great biker formation and I happenned to be in the middle with one guy on a BMW and one guy on a KLR both in front of me and behind me, so I kinda felt like the princess with her escort of handsome men...not to shabby!

Ahhhh, what a difference a nice bed makes!

So, Kevin and I were able to contain the killer bees and survived our first night at our gorgeous borrowed home in Boquete, Panama. We woke up this morning fully rested and restored from a fantastic night's sleep on a supremely soft mattress with deliciously soft pillows. We spent about an hour and a half giving our motorcycles much needed baths, especially after the manny rivers we crossed on the way to and from Bahia Drake in Costa Rica; we also washed all our ridding gear and all our clothes. Then we lazied around the house looking out at the rainstorm from the floor-to-ceiling windows in the living room. Wow, this is the way to live!
I'm very happy to say that the aforementioned ride to and from Bahia Drake did wonders for my ridding confidence in terms of getting rid of the demons I had been carrying since my one bad fall and subsequent numerous falls trying to get up the mountains on the way to Miraflores in Nicaragua. It seems very appropriate that my demons should disappear right around the same time that the bruise on my thigh is hardly visible any more.
We've been on the road 35 days now and it is really amazing for me to sit down and really take stock in all the adventures we have already had, fantastic places we've been, and all the great people we have already met. At this pace, it seems to me that by the end of this trip, we will have lived a kind of "second life" all it's own.
So, once again, in the interest of sharing more than stories and helping everyone really appreciate what we've been up to, I will share some more pictures from our travels. First, this is the little slice of heaven where we are staying.
Also, I want to give a shout-out to my "mamita" and my brothers, I love you guys and I miss you, and once again warmly thank Pepe and Maria Eugenia for letting us crash at their place.

Knock, knock

Who's there?

Costa rica.

Costa Rica Who?


We are in Boquette, Panama at our friends Pepe and Ma eugenia house. It is a gorgeous house bought from a developer that was going under.

However the house has one minor problem, it is infested with killer bees.

Yes, those same killer bees we were terrified of when we were younger, along with Sasquatch, UFO's, and (he Loch Ness Monster.

Pepe warned us not to sleep upstairs as the bees are in the eaves. He also warned that motorcycle engines get them riled up. Talk about not looking a gift horse in the mouth!

There are dead birds strewn on the deck, apparently the handiwork of the new unwelcome guests according to our new friend Lucchini, the local looking after the property.

The house has a 30 foot wall of glass looking over the valley, but when we came home tonight and turned on the lights I felt a bit like being in the movie The Birds. Some bees starting plinking against the glass, trying to get in, and a couple did get in and were ominously buzzing about. I think Clara and I will make emergency evacuation plans tonight before we goto bed, where we may discuss birds and bees further!!!

We had a great day today, waking up 30 feet from the surf of Bahia Drake (drake bay) in our tent. At 7 am it was about 90 percent humidity as we headed 40 miles up dirt roads, through six rivers (clara took 6 of them!) to get back to the highway to Panama.

And who was there? None other than our motorcycle soulmate Tim Morgan who had reconnected with his 2 kiwis he met in Mexico, and two Canadiens on GS1200,s coming back from south america after a six month tour. They gave some very helpful information, before heading back to the great white north. Tim, the two kiwi's josh and john on KLR 650's, clara and I spent a couple hours going through customs and then made a rarely seen convoy of ragged bikers through Panama.

Ah, the sights and smells of motorcyclists on the road in third world countries. Good thing George Bush hasn't seen us or he might invade Panama like his dad did to "keep americans safe"!

But, so far so well, and Clara is doing great now that we lowered the tire pressure in the bikes in the dirt!
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