Day 308 – Key West to Knight Key, Florida

Day 308 – Key West to Knight Key, Florida        06/25/11        Mileage: 53

I was a little slow out of the chute this morning no thanks to the beer and Jagger last night I’m sure. I lingered in the comfort of my air-conditioned and immaculately clean room that came complete with a flush toilet, hot and cold running water and a TV with English channels….luxury. But soon it was time to pack the bike and hit the road north. I made my way up to Knight Key where I found a nice RV/campground right on the water.

But what sold it was a cool little tiki bar walking distance away. So, after I setup camp I wandered over to the Sunset Grill for dinner and some drinks.

It is a cool place right on the water, the food is great and it’s a good spot to watch the sunset over the water.

This is not going to make my transition back into the “real” world any easier…that’s fro sure…

Day 307 – Miami to Key West, Florida

Day 307 – Miami to Key West, Florida         06/24/11        Mileage: 166

It was only 160 or so miles from Miami down to Key West and the southernmost point in the continental US, so that seemed like something too good to pass up. Or, maybe it was Duval St that beckoned, but either way I packed the bike and hit the road south for one last time. The riding was hot but the scenery was more than making up for it.

I had a great lunch overlooking the water…

Once I arrived in Key West I made my way down to the southernmost point in the US for the requisite photo.

Got the requisite picture at the southernmost point in the continental USA…

….and in front of Capt. Tony’s Saloon!

Even though it was supposedly the off season, there was quite a crowd in town and I had a hell of a time finding a room in Key West, but did eventually track one down for $180…making it the most expensive hotel room on this trip so far…ouch. But, there was no time to dwell on that fact when Duval St. and it’s many famous bars beckon. So after quickly unpacking, I made my way downtown to commence a Duval Crawl.

My first stop was Capt. Tony’s made famous in part by Jimmy Buffett.

Next I stopped into Sloppy Joe’s which had 2 hilarious guys on stage singing songs you knew by heart, but with dirty lyrics…it was hysterical!

Instead of “I Have Friends in Low PLaces” by Garth Brooks…they sang “I Lick Girls in Low PLaces”…and that’s all I can say on the “G” rated blog!

I stayed to the end of their act and then made my way over to the Hogs Breath Saloon for a beer.

Straight to the point. And they did have good pizza…

Next I headed down Duval St. to Fogarty’s and then on the Jimmy Buffett’s Margaretville.

Next up was Willie T’s followed by The Bull and Whistle Bar, but ended up spending most of the rest of the night in Durty Harry’s. 

Inside Durty Harry’s….

For me and my buddy Erik…me an ex-Coastie…and Erik an ex-Naval aviator…

They had a great cover band, ice cold Jagger and PBR’s….nuff said….

Day 302-306 – Bogota, Colombia to Miami, Florida

Day 302-306 – Bogota, Colombia to Miami, Florida         06/19-23/11        Mileage: Local miles

I had an early flight out of Bogotá to Panama City where I caught my flight to Miami. It’s been 8 months since I left the US and it was great to be back…though they speak still speak mostly Spanish here…so that wasn’t much of a change. lol I stayed the next 5 days visiting with family in the area and with my parents who flew down from NJ.

From L to R: My Aunt Helen, Cousin Barbara, my mother, father and me…

My cousins Barbara and Murray were great hosts and staying at their place was like a vacation within a vacation!

The great view from my cousins house….

Barbara also helped me get the bike out of customs which was a big help, and gladly went really smooth.

Unwrap it and ride away…it doesn’t get any easier…..thanks Barabara for your help!

I also took some time to work on the bike and get her ready for the final leg of my journey home to NJ…

Day 300-301 – Bogota, Colombia 06/17-18/11 Mileage: 0

Day 300-301 – Bogota, Colombia        06/17-18/11         Mileage: 0

The last two days I spent getting caught up with blog and walking around downtown Bogotá.

I made it a point to stop by the street stand I got the hotdog from the other day to try out her burger….and it did not disappoint. It probably tripled my cholesterol, but whatever…it was freakin good!

Tomorrow it’s back to the good ‘ol USA after 8 months out of the country…

Day 299 – 300 – Bogota, Colombia

Day 299 – 300 – Bogota, Colombia       06/16 – 17/11       Mileage: 0

I met the Lyncargo representative at the airfreight terminal at 8:30am along with a handler from the airline, but not before making a D&D run!

I must be getting closer to home….

…..though the signs were still in Spanish…

The national police were also there and they went through my bag and side cases, presumably looking for drugs or other contraband. They even made me start the bike while one of the officers had his nose in my tailpipe….whatever floats your boat, fella! I tried to take a picture of him but he gave me the wave off which was too bad….it would have been a funny picture. So with that complete and signatures all around, the bike was cleared for export.

That done I made my way back to the hotel where I hunkered down to update the blog which was now over 2 weeks behind way back in Manaus, Brazil! That night I walked around downtown Bogotá and had the best hotdog…maybe ever.

It goes like this….put onions on the grill, smothered in ketchup, mustard and mayo, then put a big fat hotdog in a bun huge bun, cover it with said grilled onions, then a healthy (or unhealthy as the case me be) layer of crushed potato chips, then 3 more unidentified sauces, followed by diced tomatoes and relish, smother it with a big layer of mozzarella, steam it for a minute to melt the cheese, then top the whole thing off with pineapple sauce. I didn’t make it up folks…that ‘s just how I watched it being made! 

The following day was more of the same…walked around the downtown, more writing and updating the blog,…

The police here ride Suzuki V-Strom650’s…pretty cool!

Day 298 – Bucaramanga to Bogota, Colombia

Day 298 – Bucaramanga to Bogotá, Colombia        06/15/11        Mileage: 257

Today was all business on the mountainous road down to Bogotá and despite the great scenery, I didn’t even stop for a picture…sorry folks. I arrived at the outskirts of Bogotá mid-afternoon and made my way straight to the Lyncargo office near the airport.

Fortunately they were still there and got right on finalizing my export paperwork for the bike. Once done I followed one of the Lyncargo staff over to the airfreight terminal at the airport where I prepped the bike for its flight home to the US.

No girl likes to get weighed…..    😉

The ‘ol girl weighed in at 247 kilo’s, or just under 550 pounds….lock, stock, barrel, boots…everything right down to my Aerostitch gear…

I handed the bike over, but will have to come back tomorrow morning for a final police inspection and to finish the paperwork. That done I hopped in a cab to the El Cafeceito hostal where I got a room and some dinner.

Tomorrow it’s back to the airport to finish processing the KLR for export…

Day 297 – San Cristobal, Venezuela to Bucaramanga, Colombia

Day 297 – San Cristobal, Venezuela to Bucaramanga, Colombia       06/14/11       Mileage: 173

It was supposed to be a short run to the border, only 22 or so miles, but it took over an hour as the road was mountainous, full of slow moving trucks and largely in disrepair. Thankfully I had Silviu’s GPS waypoint for the immigration office that was buried in the border town maze of streets instead of being on somewhere on the road like usual. After getting stamped out I made my way to the border but had to wait for the aduana (customs) officials to return from siesta in order to cancel my import permit for the bike.

I paid this cute kid to watch my bike while I was in the aduana office….he got a kick out of sitting on the bike…

Once that was done, I crossed back into Colombia for the second time on this journey. The immigration office for Colombia was right at the border, and I had my entrance stamp in under 15 minutes, but the Colombian aduana office was 10 miles away in a small city called Cucuta and it would have been impossible to find had I not once again had Silviu’s GPS waypoint for it. (Thanks again bro!)

The aduana process was painfully slow and took over two hours…..and what made it worse was sitting there watching helpless bureaucrats chit-chat, drink coffee, flirt…pretty much anything but actual work…while me and the rest of the people waiting in line were losing our f–ing minds! By the time that was done it was mid afternoon and I still had many miles to ride if I had any hopes of dropping the bike of at the freight terminal tomorrow in Bogotá, so I got on the gas. The road was twisty and great fun to ride, but very slow going which was not helping me make progress.

I had it in my mind that I wanted to at least get as far as Bucaramanga, which I did eventually do…but not without 4 hours of riding in the dark on twisty and foggy mountain roads…a calculated risk for sure. Tomorrow will be my last day on the road in South America which is kind of hard to grasp…a sure sign that this journey is nearing it’s inevitable end.

Day 295 – 296 – Tinaquilo to San Cristobal, Venezuela

Day 295 – 296 – Tinaquilo to San Cristobal, Venezuela       06/12 – 13/11       Mileage: 331

Today was all business getting down to San Cristobal, so I didn’t take many pictures, and by not many I mean none. The good news is the JB-Weld worked like magic on the radiator, not a single drop leaked all day. I found a nice room in a little posada that had decent wifi, so I spent the rest of the night getting caught up with email and doing some writing for the blog.

This little posada was so nice and relaxing in fact, I decided to stay an extra day so that I could continue to finalize my plans for me and the bike to get to Miami. Tomorrow, I’ll cross the border back into Colombia for the 2 day run down to Bogota.

Day 294 – Caracas to Tinaquilo, Venezuela

Day 294 – Caracas to Tinaquilo, Venezuela        06/11/11       Mileage: 135

This morning I would say adios to Ian who was off to Cartagena to rendezvous with John and from where they had arranged to put their bikes on a cargo ship home. I would head southwest through the Andes mountains towards Bogota where my bike had an airplane reservation to Miami. Like John, Ian is a fun and easy guy to travel with and I hope this will not be the last time we share some miles.

Adios mi amigo, buen viaje…

But, I wasn’t back on my own just yet, Silviu and Nelson came by on their bikes to take me around a bit and show me the way to the highway. So, shortly after 9 they showed up and they took me up to a great overlook not too far from Silviu’s house.

Nelson, me and Silviu with the skyline of Caracas…

We took the requisite photo’s after which we went to a local bike shop where and found a cheap taillight lens until I can get a proper replacement back in the US. We swung by Silviu’s house where they helped me fit the new lens with the help of some duct tape and an empty Motul bottle.

Silviu, being the prankster that he is, also picked me up a Mack truck sticker in honor of my wreck. Bastard.  lol

We also sat down with the map and he gave me more great information and waypoints for the various Venezuelan and Colombian border offices…something that will save me tons of time crossing the border. So with that done, we got back on the bikes and after a nice little ride on some twisty mountain roads, showed me the on ramp for the highway west. Muchas gracias mi amigos!

Silviu and Nelson waving goodby, ADV style…   lol

On the highway I ran the bike up to speed and it felt fine…which is hard to believe given the hit that it took. The only thing I had noticed is a small antifreeze leak after the accident, which was now slowly getting worse. I kept an eye on it as I made my way west but soon it became apparent that I could not put it off any longer. It was mid afternoon so I figured I would stop now and find a hotel while I still had daylight to fix the bike.

Once settled into the room, I stripped the left side fairing off and loosened the radiator mount to get a better look. It appeared the leak was coming from between two cooling fins…so not easy to pinpoint exactly. So, it seemed there was only one fix…JB-Weld to the rescue!

It’s steal reinforced two part epoxy that you just knead and apply….presto, job done! I carry two sticks of it…and it is the greatest thing since duct tape. Tomorrow will be the true test to see if it holds, but so far it looks good…

Day 293 – Piritu to Caracas, Venezuela

Day 293 – Piritu to Caracas, Venezuela        06/10/11       Mileage: 169

I felt like I was run over by a truck this morning, perhaps because of all the beer I drank, or maybe it was because I was actually run over by a truck? Either way, I was slow out of the gate but luckily we only had a short run to Caracas ahead of us. Ian gave me a hand bending my handlebar back as best we could, and after giving the bike the once over and tightening the chain, we hit the road.

The Peruvian flag took a bit of a beating….

The bike ran great and aside from the visible damage and the side racks being all bent to shit, you wouldn’t know it got rear ended by a semi truck the day before.

We made it to Caracas and made our way to a hostal that a fellow motorcyclist had recommended. His name is Silviu (ADV name: SS in Vzla) and he has been a great help with information about Venezuela and even helped my track down a flight for my KLR to get back to the US. Silviu swung by the hostal that night with his friend (and fellow motorcyclist) Nelson and they took us to a great pizza joint.

Afterwards we went to a hopping outside bar where we gorged on beer and smoked a few of Silviu’s fine Cuban cigars (one of the perks of living in Venezuela, besides the cheap gas!).

Me and Silviu smoking one of Fidel’s finest…or is it Raul now?

L to R: Ian, Nelson, Silviu and me….

We had a great night and to top it all, Silviu and Nelson wouldn’t let Ian and I pay. I’ve been humbled several times on this trip by people’s boundless generosity towards what nearly amounts to a perfect stranger…Scott, Becki and Glenn in Alaska…Santiago, Pablo and their family in Medellin…Gustavo and Helena in Buenos Aires to name a few…and to that list you can add Silviu and Nelson. Muchas gracias mi amigos! I hope one day I’ll be able to return the generosity….

Day 292 – Ciudad Bolivar to Piritu, Venezuela

Day 292 – Ciudad Bolivar to Piritu, Venezuela       06/09/11       Mileage: 201

Had I known I would be hit by a truck later today, I would have elected to just stay in bed. But, lacking that foreknowledge, Ian and I wandered out for breakfast at a street vender stand we found around the corner from the hotel. The vender ended up being a real nice guy, and being from Guyana he spoke English as well. We chatted for a bit while Ian and woofed down 2 hotdogs and some bad bubblegum flavor soda…not exactly the breakfast of champions, but it will do.

Once packed we split for the road to Caracas. The riding was hot and boring but we were making good time.

Getting low on fuel we stopped for gas, had some lunch and lingered in the restaurants A/C for a while. It’s at this point that my day went pear shaped. The highway was a 4 lane dived highway (2 lanes in either direction) with u-turns crossing the dividing median. We had stopped on the east bound side, but had to cross the highway to continue on the westbound side to Caracas. There was no entrance ramp per say, just a paved section connecting the service road and the highway. I was in front and as I pulled close to the highway I looked to my left and saw a truck in the right lane and another truck a little farther back in the left lane, so I turned onto the highway and accelerated toward the u-turn in the median. Having crossed both lanes I was slowing down and just about to turn onto the center median when the truck in the left lane slammed into me from behind. The bike went down on the right side along with me and luckily we both tumbled off onto the median clear of the path of the skidding truck. Ouch, that’s gonna leave a mark…and leave several marks it did. Fortunately though, none of them were that serious, except for my severely bruised ego. You see, the difficult thing to admit is that I was at fault. I put myself in front of that speeding truck, not the other way around…so ultimately I have no one to blame but myself. Was the truck speeding…pretty clearly it was, but that is moot and nothing new for Venezuelan roads.

The good news is that I got up and walked away…and miraculously the KLR was able to ride away. My armored Aerostitch Darien jacket and pants paid for themselves many times over.

The KLR took a pretty good beating to the rear factory cargo rack, the side cases and rack and the right side engine guard, but she will live to fight another day. For now though, Ian and I decided to stay put in Piritu so I can get my shit together and tend to the bike. After filling out some paperwork at the town highway patrol office, we got a room and then set out to try and get my side cases beat back into shape.

We found a repair shop /metal shop a few blocks away and the guys there set about making my side cases into boxes again.

The guys did such a good job on the side cases, I went and bought a case of beer to say thanks which started things down a slippery slope….and in fact after several more cases of beer it turned into a party of sorts!

This guy really though I would trade my Arai XD3 for the salad bowl and shoe lace he calls a helmet. Given todays incident, I think I’ll stick with my Arai….but thanks!  lol

In the middle of this a barber showed up and gave a few guys haircuts…including Ian…you just can’t make this shit up.


I nearly bought the farm a few hours ago, now I’m half drunk off my ass partying with a bunch of Venezuelan metal shop guys getting haircuts. Life is weird..and good…

Day 291 Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela

Day 291 Santa Elena to Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela       06/08/11       Mileage: 442

John was up and out the door shortly after 5am this morning as he wanted to get to Ciudad Bolivar to get some local info on visiting Angel Falls before the business day ended. Ian and I had already pretty much written of going to the falls so we left at a more leisurely 8am. Our first stop was to get gas on the way out of town. Now, I had heard of the cheap gas here in Venezuela, but even I was taken aback by just how cheap….we’re talking 4.5 CENTS per gallon! Yep, you read that right…we filled up our motorcycles for under 25 cents….and that was for premium! Regular unleaded was only 3.5 cents per gallon!

After filling up the pump read 1.45 Bolivars……there are 8 Bolivars to 1 US dollar! 

That was a refreshing change after Brazil where gas is at least double of what it costs in the US. With our tanks filled for mere pennies we headed north into the Gran Sabana which is a beautiful place and a joy to ride through.

The Gran Sabana is particularly famous for its many waterfalls, so we took some time to visit a few.

After leaving the Gran Sabana there was nothing really of note…just laying down miles down long, hot, sweaty roads.

Some roadside art…

“I want to look in your bags.” Dude, you got the AK-47, you can look wherever you like!  😉

We arrived in Ciudad Bolivar right at dusk and found a hotel. We got in touch with John who had found a hotel nearby so we met for dinner. He found a flight the next morning out to the camp near Angel Falls, but was still not sure if he would get to see them. Ian and I were going to continue on to Caracas, so after we dinner I bid farewell to John. It has been almost 3 weeks we’ve been traveling together and it has been great fun. I hope we get to ride together again in some other far flung corner of the globe…

Day 290 Santa Elena, Venezuela

Day 290 Santa Elena, Venezuela       06/07/11       Mileage: Local miles

We were up pretty early and after drying out our camping gear, we went straight over to the insurance broker.

It took $%#&$% ages to process and there seemed to be a lot of trouble with mine in particular, so Ian and John left and went to get started at the border.

Meanwhile the agent said their system wouldn’t take my license plate number, and after several calls to the main office, it still was not resolved. This being Latin America, now of course it was siesta time, so they said to come back after 2pm. You’re f—king joking, right? So I left and went to the border and found John and Ian waiting to process their paperwork…why…siesta of course!

 Luckily by now we only had to wait about half an hour, but I still had no insurance. Undeterred, I decided to just try and pass off my NJ insurance as international insurance and hope they buy it, because I sure as shit ain’t going back to that insurance broker to watch the grass grow. So when the customs staff returned from siesta, they called us to the window and we bombarded them with our paperwork, which I think helped hide the fact that I didn’t have the insurance document that John and Ian had. But when she did directly asked me about insurance, I said that my insurance was good in every country in South America …and she bought it. Nice!

Hugo Chavez says welcome!

Border formalities complete, Ian and John had to return to town to send a few emails related to shipping their bikes home, and unfortunately by the time that was done it was too late in the day to even ride, so we ended up back in the same exact hotel room we left this morning. Oh well, that’s just the way it happens sometimes…

Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela

Day 289 Vista Alegre, Brazil to Santa Elena, Venezuela      06/06/11      Mileage: 237

It poured overnight which did not bode well for us as we still had to get across the river. John and I walked 1 block down to the water’s edge and indeed the water had risen at least 2-3 feet from where it was last night. The tienda in which we had dinner last night now had 2 feet of water in it. Several motor canoes had come right up the street so I asked one of the owners if he would be willing to take 3 motorcycles across the river. He agreed and after negotiating a price we had a plan!

Me negotiating with the boat owner…

So, after packing the bikes we rode down the street to where our motor canoe was waiting. We discussed a plan and agreed that John and I would go across first with our bikes, then Ian would come across with his bikes and the gear.

John’s TT and my KLR ready to set sail…

I have to admit it was a bit nerve racking crossing the boiling and swollen river in the rickety underpowered boat. If the boat went over you could kiss the bikes goodbye…not to mention having to literally swim for your life.

Luckily, we made it across OK and I was relieved to have the bikes on dry land. The GPS said it was 2.5 miles across the flooded river that normally is only maybe 100 yards across! We knew we were witnessing an unusually high flood when even the locals, police and fire department were all turning up to see the flood and take pictures.

Our bikes back on dry land with the local police department standing by…

Ian showed up with his bike and the gear about an hour later…and after repacking the bikes we hit the road north towards Venezuela.

Wrestling Ian’s XTZ660 out of the canoe…

Two hours later I had a close encounter with a vulture, and sadly the poor guy didn’t make it. I really felt bad and I hope that doesn’t bring me bad karma.

After riding in the rain for a while we finally arrived at the Venezuela border.

It was around 4:30 in the afternoon and we were told that we needed to buy insurance in Santa Elena wound 10 miles into Venezuela, then return to the border to process the paperwork. Well, we arrived at the insurance place at 4:50pm….and of course they close at 5pm and did not have time to process our insurance. Crap, so, we got a room in town and the insurance and border formalities will have to wait until tomorrow. But for now, we’re all hungry and thirsty for some ice cold beers…..some things never change!

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil

Day 288 Manaus to Vista Alegre, Brazil       06/05/11       Mileage: 398

John, Ian and I planned on getting an early start, but you know how that goes. Either way it was nice to be back on the bikes and rolling north with 2 new friends. The first half of the day was uneventful with mile upon mile of dense jungle lining the roadside.

Leaving Manaus…..Caracas, Venezuela….2,250 kilometers to go…

Ian and his Yamaha XTZ660…

Ian with me in his rear view mirror…

Brazil doesn’t make a big deal about the equator…and this graffiti filled monument is all that marks its location. I flew right by and didn’t even see it. Either way…I was back in the northern hemisphere for the first time in 6 months…

We ran into some rain, but nothing too bad….but we did notice that all the rivers were high though, so there has definitely been a lot of rain here lately.

A quick rest stop and map check…

Shortly after we came upon a roadblock where the police said the road was closed due to flooding 10 miles ahead and that we could not proceed. He didn’t know when it would be open…could be days or even weeks! We talked our way past by saying we wanted to go take pictures and have a look for ourselves.

When we got there the road was indeed flooded for at least half a mile….but the locals said it was only knee-deep the whole way across. Score! We can ride that no problem, so we started across.

All was fine until my bike stalled shortly after getting through a deep spot. John was kind enough to walk back and help me push the bike the rest of the way across.

Once on dry land the bike fired up and we were on our way. A few miles down the road we came upon another section, though thankfully not as long or as deep…but again my bike stalled. WTF!

Fortunately, as soon as the bike was back on dry land it fired up….still pretty aggravating though. Back on the road we were pushing hard to make it to Caracarai where we knew there was some food and shelter.

But, right at dusk we were stopped cold in our tracks by a very flooded Rio Branco.

The bikes stopped dead in their tracks by the flooding Rio Branco

Undeterred at first, John and I got off the bikes and started walking across to see how deep and how far the water was. Several hundred yards into thigh deep water…at night, we came to two revelations….one, we still couldn’t see dry land on the other side and two, wouldn’t this be a perfect spot for a big angry caiman to attack two big tasty (if not smelly) bikers? Errrr, should have thought that one through a little more before plunging right into water. Ummmm, first one back to shore get’s to live to see tomorrow!

John and I returning from our little river walk…

Safely back on dry land we discussed our options, which ended up being pitching our tents in one of the locals yards nearby. After getting out of our wet riding gear we went in search of some dinner and found a little tienda that was open. The selection was meager, but a tin of canned meat surprise and some crackers will do just fine. The woman working the tienda was also kind enough to heat up the canned meat on here stove in back. Oh, and she had cold beer…so all is right with the world.

Tin of canned meat and crackers, $4. Six rounds of beer, $22. Dinner in the Amazon jungle with your riding buddies after a great day on the bikes….priceless.

Tomorrow….we have to figure out how to get across that flooded river.

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil

Day 286 – 287 Manaus, Brazil      06/03-04/11      Mileage: o

The last two days I spent mostly running errands, getting chores done, catching up on email and shaking off a mean hangover. I did spend one afternoon walking around town and did make it a point to see the Teatro Amazones (a grand theater from Manaus’s heyday during the rubber boom) which is an impressive building for sure.


John had to track down an electrical problem with his TT600….fortunatly he’s an electrician in the UK…so he found it pronto…

It’s been two weeks since I’ve done any real riding and tomorrow I’m looking forward to getting back on the bike!

Day 285 – Amazon Jungle Day 2

Day 285 – Amazon Jungle Day 2        06/02/11       Mileage: o

We were up shortly after 6am and we all slept surprisingly well….all except for Ian that is. It seems there was a malfunction of sorts with his mosquito net on his hammock, because the mosquitoes used his back for a pin cushion. Poor bastard.

Morning everyone….

Here’s a closer look on how the shelter was built…pretty cool…

Packing up camp…

In case you’re wondering what 200 mosquito bites look like….now you know…

After packing up camp we headed back to the natives house for breakfast in our trusty wooden canoe…after we bailed it out of course.

Next on the agenda was a short jungle trek with Antonio pointing out many interesting things about the Amazon jungle. He pointed out trees and plants that were used for everything from medicines for different ailments to poisons for blow darts and even a particular ant that hunters would smear on themselves to mask their scent while hunting.

That is one %#$&% big spider!

He pointed out some monkey’s but they were too high up to get a picture of. After a few hours we arrived back at the canoe and started making our way back towards the base camp. Along the way Antonio spotted a sloth high up in the trees along the river. With a branch Antonio tried to get him to come down…but then with a splash the sloth fell from the tree into the river. Amazingly it just started swimming back towards the trees….who knew sloths could swim?! Antonio picked him up out of the water and we all had a closer look.

 He’s a shy fellow for sure and looked ready for a nap despite being roused from his perch. How Antonio saw him up in the tree in beyond me….all I can say is Antonio is the real deal when it comes to jungle guides. Back at base camp we unloaded the canoe and had another nice lunch and were entertained again by the “house” monkey.

We all relaxed for a while as well but soon it was time to head back to Manaus the same way we arrived….first on the small boat back to the van to another boat across the main Amazon River to a car to take us back to town. All in all, it was an amazing experience that I’m glad I didn’t miss. Later that night Ian, John and I ate and drank our body weight in pizza and beer…a nice little capper on two very memorable days in the Amazon. Bucket of beer…yep, that’s for us, gracias…

More posts coming soon!

Sorry for the long delay between pots, but I’ve been on the road and haven’t had time to write or post. I’m currently in western Venezuela and will be crossing back into Colombia soon. More posts are on the way!


Day 284 – Amazon Jungle Day 1

Day 284 – Amazon Jungle Day 1       06/01/11       Mileage: o

Today was day one of a two day trip into the Amazon Jungle and it began when our car picked us up to take us down to the docks where we would catch the first of 3 boats.

The fish in the lower right are piranha!

The first boat took us across to the south bank of the Amazon River. Along the way we crossed the “Meeting of the Waters” which is where the black water of the Rio Negro and muddy brown water of the Rio Solimões come together and run parallel for a few miles before mixing together.

Here is a shot from a plane which is much more clear….

Next was a 40 minute van ride to catch boat number two which would take us to the outfitter base camp on a small tributary of the Amazon.

L to R: John, Ian and our guide Antonio

At the base camp we had nice lunch and were entertained by a small monkey that had us all laughing.



Piranha…it’s whats for lunch…

After letting lunch settle for a bit we packed boat number three….a motorized canoe…which would take us deeper yet into the jungle.

Machette…check, tarp shelter….check, bug spray…check…….crapload of beer…..check!

In addition to John, Ian and myself, we were joined by a lovely couple from the UK and a young guy from Holland.

Our guides name was Antonio whom we had met the day before while booking the trip. He grew up in the mountains of southern Guyana and speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and two local Indian dialects…amazing. So with the boat packed we headed deeper into the jungle.

After cruising along a small river we entered the flooded forest while Antonio pointed things out to us along the way…including several large spiders which were kind of hard to miss!

Just in case you missed it…that is one big spider!

Once back in more open water we came upon a pod of river dolphins that were all around the canoe…amazing.

Continuing on we headed back into another flooded forest, this time to do some piranha fishing!



OK, so they are not very big, but I guess if you were surrounded by 500 of them all taking a bite out of you, you might be in some trouble! Did I mention that our wooden canoe had a leak and we had to continually bail it out…yep. So after amateur angler hour was over, we went out in search of a place to setup camp for the night. We went deeper into the bush down a small stream, then a smaller stream until Antonio found a suitable site which we began clearing by hand and with machetes.

We then helped him construct our shelter which we made from several cut tree trunks and blue tarp.

 Next we hung the hammocks under the shelter and covered them with the all important mosquito net….as we are square in the middle of the malaria zone.

After camp was set we got back into the canoe and went to a native’s house where we had dinner and some great conversation.

With our bellies full it was back to the canoe, but before heading back to camp Antonio took us looking for caiman…the Amazon’s answer to an alligator! They can apparently grow up to 15 feet….much larger than the canoe, so lucky for us the one he caught was just a 7-9 month old little guy.

 Those who wanted to hold him got their chance, but then it was time to let him go before his little chirps for help were answered by mommy! Once back in camp we built a fire and had some nice ice cold beers before retiring to our hammocks….now this is the life…..

Day 283 – Manaus, Brazil

Day 283 – Manaus, Brazil       05/31/11       Mileage: 0

This morning we pulled the bikes off the boat which was a piece of cake because we were tied to a floating pier the exact same height as the boat cargo deck….sweet.

Bikes and bananas were the only thing left on the cargo deck in the morning…

We found a place to stash them for a few hours while we walked around Manaus to get the lay of the land and find a place to stay.

First order of business….some breakfast at a street food stand….

We also rand some errands which included a stop in the pharmacy where we had a funny exchange with the gals behind the counter.

When you are trying to describe to someone that you have a bad case of the shits in a foreign language, laughter is going to be the inevitable result!

John taking the prescribed remedy…

The two very helpful pharmacists…

This guy had a, ummm, unique seat cover on his bike.

After settling on a private room in the Manaus hostel, we went back to collect the bikes and relocate them to a French School across the street from the hostel that was kind enough to let us leave the bikes in their gated parking lot.

Nos motos à l’Ecole de français, oui

That night we had a low key street stand dinner and all caught up on our email and wifi. Tomorrow we’re off on a two day jungle excursion which should be a great experience!