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Bo 'n' Louise

A blog about one of our trips

The unprepared round-the-world tour starting 29th of June 2009.
First phase was from USA to South America on motorcycles. We made it, and the bikes are sold.
Second phase was the South Pacific... from island to island in old fashion backpacker style.
Third phase was around and around in Southeast Asia.
In fourth phase Louise went back to Denmark (August 2010) for work, while Bo continued in East Asia.
In fifth phase we were both on work, Louise in South America and Bo in Southeast Asia.
In the sixth phase Louise was in Denmark while Bo was making his way home through Russia.
By November 2010 both Louise and Bo were back in Denmark and an amazing journey has ended - but then there is always the next trip :-)

Bypassing the Darien gap – part 1, leaving Panama

Panama Posted on Wed, September 30, 2009 00:19:06

Since the road ended in jungle down at Yaviza, we had to cross the gap between Panama and Colombia in another way and the solution was sailing. Or more correctly, first take the main road, then drive on dirt road, then cross a deep river, then some more dirt road before getting the bikes into long canoes for sailing the bit into the Caribbean sea for the anchored big sailboat (the Stahlratte) where the bikes got lifted onto… and then we were off to Colombia through the San Blas archipelago. Sounded like a brilliant idea.

We skip the easy part of the journey and jump to the dirt road bit. We had joined forces with Ricky, an experienced off-road driver from Utah, who was also going to Colombia on the same boat. The surface was fairly hard, but small rubles made the bikes slide from side to side and the steep hills just kept coming. Louise did an amazing job rollercoasting these, something she wouldn’t have done weeks back. And then the river came. The captain from the sailing boat had warned us about the river, but said it should be passable. It was deep. Big Caterpillar road construction machines crossed there and they went deep in sending waves down the river. Some Kuna Indians with canoes were all big smiles when they saw us arrive. They kindly offered to sail over bikes across for 30 USD… each. No way, so I walked into the river in boots and pants and explored if there was a shallower place to cross.

Wonder how deep it gets

I kind of found a place before the Indians made their last offer of 50 USD for all three bikes, but by now the adventure has gone into our blood. Ricky walked Louise’s bike over. The water came high but the engine kept going and suddenly we had one bike over. Then it was my turn. I drove my own slowly over while Ricky was walking next to me, just in case.

Piece of cake…

The river current was fairly strong but even with panniers on I didn’t feel it much and with the sandy bottom I went across without much drama. Finally Ricky crossed on his Suzuki DR650 which is lower than our KLRs. He managed to get a bit of water into the air filter, but got across… and in style too. We were all smiles and as Ricky mentioned, this was what it was all about. He would have paid 30 USD to cross the river on the bike, and he was right.

Then we thought our sorrows were over, but no. We came to the other river where other Kuna Indians were waiting with their canoes to take us out to the sailing boat that was anchored up off the coast. Again the captain had given us the impression that it was a piece of cake… but boy, these guys had no idea what they were doing. First they didn’t know how to grab on a bike, they hold on to indicators (made in plastic), fairing (made in plastic) and other not solid bits that was conveniently sticking out.

And what should have been a lift of a 220 kg heavy bike was a drag over wood until the bike tipped into the narrow canoe while no-one was holding on to it. Man. This continued with the two other bikes, but in the end we got in and headed for the sailing boat that was anchored up among Bounty islands.

Here we were welcomed by the German crew that was all hands and ropes and in a second the bikes were on board and tired solid to railing (or so we thought, but read more in part 2).

One hand, who needs a sixpack

And we were on our way to Colombia.

End of Central America

Panama Posted on Tue, September 29, 2009 00:07:53

Leaving Panama City

We had finally escaped neon lighted Panama City and have headed for the Darien gap, the legendary drug trafficking and guerrilla infested belt of jungle that separates Central America from South America. All this danger is actually not present until one ventures off into no-man’s land after the last settlement, something that was not our agenda. Our plan was just taking the one and only road (the Pam-American highway) as far as it goes.

Driving down the Pan-American highway

After nine hours driving from Panama City and 10046 km from San Diego it stopped. It turned into the settlement of Yaviza and ended abruptly in a small concrete path that circled the small town. No signs or indication that this was the end of the Pan-American hgwy.

End of the Pan-American hgwy – the red arrow point to the end of the yellow lane separating line

Before we managed to get a hotel room the towns military had found us and invited us to park the bikes inside their compound, for safety reasons they explained, though they said it was perfectly safe in town… well they were also the ones carrying AK-47s. We even got our own town guide/bodyguard for the rest of the evening.

The Colonel that watched ours bikes

The next morning we turned around and headed back to Panama City. The whole area in this part of Panama is inhabited by Indians… yes, real Indians and some even semi naked. Along the road there were small villages of Wounaan and Embera Indians living in palm leave huts.

A little Yaviza kid

Wishing to see some more of these Indians we turned inland from the Pan-American hgwy on a bumpy dirt road. Big rocks and slippery mud send us everywhere and halfway Louise decided to call it off while I continued in the hope to see some long indian breasts.

Crap road that in addition was super slippery

After hills, deep mud and some more rocks I managed to arrive in Lara, an Wounann village… which had a phone booth right in the middle of the village. No naked people, but some very friendly (shorts and t-shirt) dressed Indians. On the way back I had to go trough the same mud and water, this time with a dog barking at my leg and a big black snake crossing my path. And then we were ready to leave Panama.

Just driving through the neighborhood

Just another day at the office..

Panama Posted on Wed, September 23, 2009 12:00:05

Woke up early to make pancakes before
sailing to the mainland through the mangrove-glad islands of Bocas
del Toro. Then got the bikes ready for the road and headed for David.
The weather was perfect for riding; some clouds, but still rays of
sunshine here and there.

Just after lunch we were stopped by a
bunch of schoolkids demonstrating in the only street ahead..

Schoolkids demonstrating in midday heat

would not let us through – but after a little scouting around, I
found some guys who showed us a different way to get around the
demonstration. We had to cross someones concrete front poach and
would not have been able to find it ourselves – but soon we were
back on the road.

Going the other way..

We rode through the clouds in the
mountains and came across a few patches of unpaved road and
construction. No match for our KLRs though..

Don’t shoot in the road??

And then we came across
this sign – and I haven’t figured out yet whether that is a good or
a bad thing.. I mean, I am glad to know I will not get shot on this
stretch of road – but does that mean that anywhere else I am fair
game? – that bring a whole new meaning to the word ”roadkill”..

Drove into David in the late afternoon
and were lucky enough to run into a local biker who showed us the way
to the ”purple house” – were everything was… purple 🙂

Going through the clouds..