Thursday, February 28, 2013, Pimentel, Peru.

First, some housekeeping. For more pictures of our time in Ecuador click HERE. Our co-rider Dave has a Blog if you want to see our trip from his point of view click HERE.

On Monday the 25th we reluctantly departed from Hosteria Puerto Lago. Michael decided he needed to make some quick time into Peru to meet his fiance so he decided to leave on his own. Not a problem since we can track each other with our SPOT devices and communicate via e-mail. We decided to make time to take a side trip into the nearby town of Otavalo for a textile market that Deby read about.

Ready for a day at the market!

We arrived as the vendors were getting set up and wandered around, we were almost the only customers there so it was calm and enjoyable. The colors were amazing. 

We left Dave behind to guard the bikes, he soon drew a crowd…..

After a number of purchases that will need to be transported a few more thousand miles we made our way back to the Trans-american Highway for our next destination, the equator! I was in the lead and almost missed the marker, I pulled over at the last minute and stopped for pictures at the very nondescript location

I expected a big sign, crowds of people, tour buses, vendors selling cheap globes, stickers saying “I crossed the equator”, but no, nothing. I was sort of hoping for a toilets on the north and south side that we could flush and see which way they swirled. I couldn’t believe the missed marketing opportunities. I only stopped because I saw a concrete globe out of the corner of my eye and wondered what it was. So here it is, the official picture of Deby and I at the equator. I’m in the southern hemisphere and Deby’s in the north. I posted this picture on Facebook and my friend Roland commented, “so there is a line at the equator”. Ha, I guess there is, at least where we were. 

After a little celebration of our own and plenty of pictures we entered the southern hemisphere. After a few short miles it started raining enough for us to make the traditional biker rain stop under an overpass. After concluding that it wasn’t a serious rain we closed the vents on our gear and continued on our way. We were right, almost immediately it stopped raining. 

The rest of the day was spent riding on more fantastic roads winding through the Andes   south to the border. As the day wore on we meandered through the crazy city of Ambato and I spotted a Hosteria sign so we pulled in. 

That’s how we found ourselves at the Hosteria Andaluza, wow what a place. Another great last minute find. This Hosteria was a 200 year old hacienda that seemed to be pretty much in it’s original condition. It was chocked full of antiques that were easily all over 100 years old.

Deby and I carried our luggage over the bridge the traversed the moat.

The reception area.

We had to climb the 200 year old stairs into our room.

Nice digs….. rose pedals on the bed.

Luxury for Deby.

Did I mention the elevation of the hotel was 10,800 feet? We didn’t think of that when we ordered a bottle of wine with our dinner. 

We had been riding at elevations between 8,000 and 12,000 feet all day and I probably hadn’t been drinking enough water and then a bottle of wine, a bad combination when at high elevations. At two AM I woke up with a killer headache and flu like symptoms. Altitude sickness? Probably. I was in no mood for any of the complementary breakfast the next day and was queasy all day until we hit some lower elevations.

Nice breakfast room. 


Tuesday, January 26th.

Despite my infirmity we managed a 9:00 start and rode through some most incredible scenery.  We continued around 10,000 feet which didn’t help my altitude sickness but the ride was a blast. 

There was a cloud layer at about 7,000 feet that topped out at around 10,000 feet. We spent the day either below the clouds, above the clouds or in the clouds. The time in the clouds was crazy, the fog was so thick we had to slow to first and second gear speeds. I rode with one hand on the throttle and the other with a rag wiping off my face shield to be able to see.

We stopped at a roadside stand for some drinks, besides Gatoraide and chips you could buy a whole pig. 

Towards the end of the day we found a hotel in the main part of Loja and called it a night.


Wednesday January 27th.

Feeling better at the lower (6,000 ft) elevation of Loja I managed to get some laundry done in the bathroom sink. Everything was dry except my socks, no problem. I strapped the damp socks to my bag and let them air dry all day in the 90 degree heat. It not only dried them out but they smelled like they were dried on the line all day. 

More fantastic riding all day long through the mountains. 

As we descended to around 3,000 feet the temperature warmed back into the 90’s. Here’s Deby picking up a little shade at a beverage stop. 

The bikes parked in a row. It was just past noon and the next stop was the border with Peru. I must say that Ecuador really surprised us and our time was way too short. Deby and I both want to come back to this wonderful country and explore it further when we have more time.

Next post – entering Peru.

Thanks for following. D&D 🙂 🙂


Into Ecuador

Monday, February 25, 2013. Hotesteria Andaluze Near Riobamba Ecuador.

Sunday morning we reconnected with Keith and Jim and headed south to the border into Ecuador. On the way I took a few pictures of the ride, one of the things we liked about Colombia was that motorcycles have a special free lane around all the tolls. It is usually a narrow path with high curbs on both sides. 

Here was one scene along the way, a mom, dad and child with spare tire and umbrella riding down the road…. all perfectly normal. The roads and scenery were phenomenal.

Deby staying close behind. 

Easy roads, with not as much traffic, nice. 

At noon we reached to border for one of the easier border crossings of the trip. Immigration out of Colombia was much easier than going in. For the vehicles, they just wanted us to hand over our import documents to a woman standing next to the road. I don’t know, she looked official and said something in Spanish so off we went. 

Entry into Ecuador was slightly more difficult. The country requires mandatory vehicle proof of insurance. The rest of the group purchased theirs online before the trip, somehow I missed that memo and went with the ADVrider advice to purchase insurance at the border crossings. No problem, usually, except on Sunday when the insurance office is closed. I had to figure a way to get ourselves into the country without insurance! Yikes. I hope no border patrol officers are reading this but I just made the mandatory copies of my declaration page of my US Progressive Insurance policy and handed it in with the stack of other papers. Before I knew it the aduana official was stamping forms and sending us on our way. All I have to do is drive safe for a few days, hmmmm.

Some more typical city driving. 


As the day wore on we found our selves looking for a hotel near Otavalo, Ecuador. We stopped on the outskirts of town and sent out scouts for a hotel. Deby and I found a run down place that seemed abandoned and Keith and Dave came across the Hosteria Purto Lago. A pretty swank place that immediately was added to my list of places to return one day.

Hotel Purto Lago lobby. 

Our villa. 

Fairly nice room inside too. 

Nice view of the dormant volcano from our front porch. 

After dinner the hotel had someone come around and light the fireplace, the only source of heat. Deby thought it was pretty romantic, no complaints here. 

Ahhh, another rough day adventure riding through South America.

Next crossing the equator!

Thanks for following. D&D 🙂 🙂

Adventure Riding in Colombia

Monday, February 25, 2013, Puerto Lago, Ecuador, Hosteria Puertolago.

Yikes, I need to get caught up, it’s already Monday the 25th??.

Thursday morning we decided to split up, Keith and Jim wanted to ride to Cali for a stay in the city and do a zipline tour over the jungle canopy. Deby and I decided to go with Dave and Michael to a Turismo Rural stay at Villa Martha, a coffee farm run by Rafael, a retired civil engineer and his wife Martha. Villa Martha was a stop highly recommended by Gustavo at the BMW dealer in Bogota and he helped us make a reservation. Gustavo said the road (ruta 40) was a pretty twisty road through the mountains and the locals call it “the line”. We weren’t sure what that meant, but we would find out. Continue reading

Adventure Riding in Colombia Part 1

Sunday, February 24, 2013, Pasto, Colombia. Hotel Aura Maria.

Bogota is at about 8,000 feet above sea level so we had been enjoying cool temperatures with highs only into the low 70’s, a nice break from the consistent 90 degree temperatures in Central America. On Wednesday morning the sky was clear blue with perfect temperatures for us to gather our motos from the dealer and resume our journey.

By noon we had all the bikes back at Charlies Place with new oil, chains and filters, ready to be loaded. After four nights at the boutique hotel we became friends with the excellent staff and they came out to wish us buen viaje which is Spanish for have a nice trip. Continue reading

Bogota Part II

Friday, February 22, 2013. Near Pereira Columbia, Villa Martha coffee farm and resort.

An adventure motorcycle ride in Colombia cannot begin until the motorcycle is successfully imported into the country. Upon notice that our bikes had arrived on Monday we had our driver, Gustavo, deliver us to the Bogota Girag office to receive the bikes. Thus began a 4.5 hour ordeal to spring free 6 motorcycles through customs and retrieve them from the Girag warehouse.

Continue reading

Touristas in Bogota

Tuesday, February 19, 2013, Bogota, Colombia. Charlie’s Place Hotel.

With the motorcycles in transit and not expected to arrive until Monday we had a few days off to explore our surroundings in Bogota. We spent most of the day Saturday on logistical things, we walked to the dealer to make sure we knew where it was and confirmed our bikes were scheduled for service on Monday. Explored the area around the hotel, did a little shopping and had a low key day. Part of the day involved extracting some local currency from the cash machines. The exchange rate is $1,800 Colombian pesos to the US Dollar, so that means to take out $100.00 US we would have to withdraw $180,000 pesos. I took out a cool half million pesos to cover me for a few days. The bills are in denominations of 50,000, 20,000 and 10,000 or 50mil, 20mil or 10mil. Mil means 1000 in Spanish. It always takes a few days to get used to the local currency with plenty of awkward moments trying to pay for things.

On Sunday we played tourista and bought tickets on a steam train to visit the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira. Continue reading

Jumping the Darian Gap into Colombia

Sunday, February 17, 2013, Bogota Colombia.

I stole the following narrative from this interesting site:

“The Pan-American Highway stretches from Cape Horn, Chile to Alaska with one 90 km break: The Darien Gap

This area is a forbidding mountainous jungle on the Panama side; full of swamps, guerrillas, drug traffikers and kidnappers on the Colombian side, making travel through the area not just a struggle against a hostile environment but also a maze of bribing the right people for passage and ducking bullets. 

In case you missed the dangers we just enumerated, here is an easy list to remember:
– tough nasty jungle with plenty of disagreeable wildlife.
– impenetrable swamps
– crazed drug traffikers
– pissed-off guerrillas
– greedy kidnappers (all of the guys mentioned above)
– paranoid government police
– no marked trails”

Continue reading

Chill’n in Panama

Saturday, February 16, 2013, Bogota, Columbia.

We learned that Carnival is serious business in Panama. In my last post we hoped that on Wednesday, with the festivities over, we could make arrangements to ship the bikes to Columbia and find a battery at the dealer for Deby’s bike. Wrong and wrong. Evidently the day after Carnival is an official holiday to let the hangovers wear off so we found ourselves with another day of hanging around the Country Inn next to the Panama Canal. With nothing to do Tuesday night we went back to the Carnival fiesta, this time with camera in hand.

Into the madness. 

Crazy decorated floats. 

A gazillion people and kids everywhere. 

Drum lines of congas! Wow! 

More kids. 

Big watermelon hats. 

Super elaborate floats – more racy than we would see in the US. 

Checking out the main stage from off to the side. 

Needed a good shot of the bass player. 

Half of the fun for the kids was to run around and spray people with a kind of soapy spray stuff. Even though we all were hit at least once, Michael seemed to be a prime target. 

The next day, Wednesday, we got up and rode to the other end of town to the BMW dealer in search of a battery for Deby’s bike. Nope, closed for what I now call “hangover day”. Dejected we turned around and fought traffic and heat on the crowded roads back to the hotel. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign for “Casa de las Baterias”. Even I knew enough Spanish to recognize it meant “The House of Batteries”. After a quick U-Turn we stopped and negotiated with sign language a new battery that was an exact fit with only a $50.00 price tag. Done deal.

I had the battery in the bike and verified it was working by noon, with another free day ahead of us we decided to ride back to the locks and see if any ships were going through. This time luck was with us so we revisited the museum with much lighter crowds and watched a few ships go through the locks.

I saw this sign, seems like good advice for any boat. 

Typical freighter and tug boats in the locks. 

Here’s Michael!

They had a really cool virtual reality mock up of the bridge of a ship going through the locks, we went through at least three times. 

Deby took a turn at the controls.

While I sent some commands from the Master Control room.

Here is one place where the really big yachts look pretty small. 

On the way out of the visitor center who should come walking in but our friends Tad and Gaila who we last saw in Nicaragua. What a blast!


Thursday morning we finally contacted Girag about shipping our motorcycles to Bogota. They could get them shipped out Saturday and they recommended we drop them off at their location Friday “before 4:00 PM”. Ok, we had a plan but that meant we also had another day of just hanging around in Panama City. Deby spent most of the day near the pool reading, Michael and I rode to a nearby shopping mall to kill some time and do a little shopping. In the evening Deby and I took a cab to Tad and Gaila’s hotel to meet them for a valentine’s day dinner at a nearby brew pub. It was great catching up with their travels and getting to see them at their furthest point south in their yearlong motorcycle trip. Here is the link to their blog

Deby and Gaila, true adventure motorcycle riders. 

I’m going to get this posted and save our jump into Colombia for the next entry. If you want to see more Panama and Carnival pictures click HERE.

More soon… I promise.

Donn and Deby 🙂 🙂


Watch for Cops! (Panama)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Panama City, Panama.

Before we left, our friend, Catherine, passed along the advice her mother always gave her, “Watch out for cops!”. For the past 6,000 miles every time Deby or I see a cop we announce in our headsets, “watch for cops”.

The TransAmerican Highway in Panama was full of cops everywhere! I’ve never seen anything like it. Motorcycle cops every mile or two for couple hundred miles, from the border to Panama City. I am not exaggerating. This was very unusual after not seeing a speed trap anywhere the whole trip. The first one we came to tagged Michael going 115 in a 80 zone (that’s KPH not MPH). Deby and I were behind him and were not flagged down so we rode a little further ahead and stopped to wait. Shows what good friends we are. It wasn’t long before Michael was putting on his helmet to go on his way, he stopped by us and told us that the cop told him it was a $100.00 fine but for $20.00 it could be fixed on the spot. No sense in arguing that logic so Michael paid the bribe and was on his way. After that the group split into two groups of three with Michael, Deby and I in the first group and Dave, Jim and Keith in the second. When we caught up for a break we found out the second group was pulled over two more times and once the cop asked for Dave’s motorcycle gloves for his bribe. Dave refused and the cop let them move on with a warning. The second time Dave talked the group out of a ticket or fine. Eventually we learned to find a fast taxi and tuck behind it. They seemed to know where all the speed traps were and the unmarked changes in the speed limit.

We eventually asked what the deal was with the speed traps and we were told that it was Carnival weekend and there was an emphasis on speeders.

The border crossing into Panama was relatively easy and only took about an hour and a half. I did manage to take a few pictures.

The closest window was passport entry stamp, the door upstairs was to inspect our vehicle insurance and on the far right around the corner was where we paid $1 for fumigation.

The window in the background is where we took all that stuff to get the vehicle import permit which we then handed to the guy with the blue hat and shirt who inspected the motorcycles and signed off on them. At least in Panama everything was within a short walk of each other.

This woman did a thorough job of fumigating the bikes with some pump spray stuff. It couldn’t have been very toxic because she didn’t wear any protection. 

We rode as far as Santiago before we found a pretty decent hotel with a pool to spend the night. The first two hotels we stopped at were full because of the Carnival festivities that are held in every town.

Monday morning we decided to get an early start when we had our first mechanical failure, Deby’s battery was dead. Her bike had been starting a little hard but we hoped to make it to Bogota Columbia to get checked since we have appointments for all the bikes to get serviced there.

The best thing to do when a motorcycle doesn’t start is to get as many people as possible standing around looking at it. 

Then get out the jumper cables, glad Michael had some with him.

And varoom! That did the trick, no turning off the 650 until Panama City! We were back on the road in no time dodging cops and drafting taxis. Our strategy worked and despite some close calls we didn’t get pulled over all day.

We arrived in Panama City around 2:00 and checked into the Country Inn and Suites, an American style hotel right on the canal in the shadow of the Bridge of Americas. 

The first order of business was to find a battery for Deby’s bike so I jumped on Deby’s still idling bike and followed Keith and Michael in search of the BMW dealer. We had the very faulty assumption it would be open on Monday, during Carnival. We got totally lost since most of the roads were closed for parades and parties and ended up hiring a cab to lead us to the dealer. He took us on a wild ride through the city and even he got lost, twice, and had to ask for directions only to find the BMW dealer had moved. Eventually after some more asking we found the very nice dealership which, of course, was closed. Between the three of us we figured out from the sign that they were closed for the holiday (duh) and would reopen on Wednesday. Somehow we found our way back to the hotel touring the slums of Panama City in the process.

The plan in Panama was for Keith and Jim to investigate a boat for the bikes to Columbia and me and David to look into flying the bikes as airfreight. It became clear that everything was closed until at least Wednesday so we extended our stay at the hotel and declared Tuesday as a free day.

Monday night when everyone else settled into their rooms after dinner Michael and I decided to grab a cab and head down to the party. I didn’t bring my camera or anything valuable because I wasn’t sure what to expect so with nothing but a couple twenties in my pocket we ventured into party zone. It was loud, crowded, chaotic, zany and fun. We were patted down at the entrance gate but there was not charge. We spent the night going from stage to stage listening to fantastic Latin music, watching a gazillion little kids prank people, and us, with some kind of soapy spray, drank beer and generally had a fun time. We were standing by the backstage part of the main stage and some guy came to talk to us. He was about our age (old) and wanted to practice his English, which was quite good. I found out he was a musician in the next band and guess what? He was the bass player! An immediate bond was formed and he brought us drinks, gave us his phone number and said if we came into any kind of trouble in Panama, even with the really bad guys, he could help us out because everyone knows him. We stashed his number away, you never know when something like that might come in handy.



On our day off Deby and I rode two-up on my bike to the Panama Canal visitor center. It was super busy with shoulder to shoulder people. Deby took this picture of me with some of the locks in the background.

Only one thing was missing… ships! Nothing, nada, nix and nay. Must be closed for Carnival?

Tomorrow is Wednesday so we will resume our search for passage to Columbia and South America, a battery for Deby’s bike and maybe visit the locks again to look for some actual oceangoing ships. Tonight? I think Deby and I will probably get our party on and check out the last grand finale of Carnival!

Thanks for following.

D&D 🙂 🙂



Costa Rica Part II

Saturday February 9th, 2013, San Vito, Costa Rica.

Today was a “travel day” which means kickstands up and on the road before 9:00 am. The route took us in a general southeast direction towards the only border crossing with Panama. After a fantastic ride on road 702 we made our way through the major city of San Jose and back onto the Pan American Highway. After San Jose the road climbs to the highest point on the Pan American Highway, which was 10,919 feet according to my GPS. We entered another cloud forest and it was super refreshing to have the temperature drop into the 50’s for a change.

This has got to be one of the best stretches of the Pan American Highway. 

We came to this restaurant near the highest point in the road and had to stop. David and Keith remembered stopping here 50 years ago, wow. We snacked and took a few pictures. 

Back on the road for some more nice, twisty roads with light traffic. 

We came to a point on the Trans American Highway, which for some reason is now called CA-2, where there is a cutoff towards San Vito called road 237. We were warned by a biker on a 990 KTM not to take that road because it was too “dangerous”. I asked what that meant and he said it was too full of sharp turns, steep downhills and dangerous roads. Our kind of road! Of course we took that route and it turned out to be beautiful new asphalt with almost no traffic. It might have been one of the best roads yet on this trip. Unfortunately, my memory was full on my camera and I couldn’t take any more pictures.

Today we rode 255 miles with a moving time of just under 7 hours. Our moving average speed was 38mph. We’re finding out it’s hard to make time on some of these roads but they sure are fun.

If you want to see more Costa Rica pictures click HERE. Follow our progress HERE.

Tomorrow we cross into Panama, hopefully it will be easier than some of the other crossings. Stay tuned.

D&D 🙂 🙂