Follow the published narration and story of two friends traveling South, through 15 countries and two continents. From Ottawa Canada to Buenos Aires, Argentina, Rob and Nik are set to embark on a journey meant to take a year, to be completed in a mere 2 months.

January - March 2011 : A year in the making..

We promise this blog will not only be awesome to read, but PACKED with info on how to plan your own trip........

the RIGHT way.

With only two months to complete the trip, we'll be cramming in tons of VIDEOS, PICS and useful and hopefully funny info.

Stay tuned for the Extended Video Log on my YouTube Channel after the trip; this blog is only the beginning....

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Nik NOT enjoying the paradise behind him, jk I'm the computer whore

The Paradise Inn Casino Pool

I started a photoshoot here because I thought it was so beautiful

The whole hotel was lit up with the awesome potlights.

I stayed in this pool all night.

This is how much I enjoyed it, Nik on his damn computer

There's stars in here somewhere

Biggest room yet, surprisingly, not the messiest

Every time I see a Mcdonald's, I smile a thousand smiles

This is our new can't beat it hard as you may try

This picture makes it look better than it really is

The port town of Portobello, really historic, worth a visit

Sudden storms wash everything about once a day

Some late afternoon beauty

We discovered an untouched game room upstairs!!

Another one of my best pics

A little afternoon pool overlooking the ocean, not too shabby for 17.00 a night each

The only place I've ever been where the sun sets over the Atlantic Ocean, a real treat considering the sun sets in the west

Ok Rob, enough fooling around with the camera

Birdies taking a dip, I've got a better video...
Ok, so only pics this post since we're on our way to the Canal, and internet is super scarce here. Found a mall to upload some good pics, will make another post sometime later this week. We're stuck here for a bit, which isnt half-bad....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

The End of the Road...Part 1

Yeah, can you believe it?? One day we're hitting the waves with a broken bike in Costa Rica and the next we're at the very tip of Panama waiting for a boat. Sorry Chris!! We sorta rushed through what was for me the most excellent part of the trip so far but with reason: we made the final decision to make sure we can get a boat across the Gap. It's the only part of the trip that doesn't have a plan, and its probably the most important. You can get lost a hundred times, but if you have to wait 2 weeks to get a boat, thats a lot of time we can't afford to make up. We really enjoyed the last few dyas, and I promise it's not the last Costa Rica will see of me.

I've been trying to save some money, so for breakfast I've been eating fruits and various groceries we've shopped for at the grocery stores. We find here that the best places to buy food are not local markets, roadside vendors, but supermarkets, walmarts, the big-name corps. Look, we're not hagglers, we try sometimes, but we're two young, 6 and a half feet guys who look like they obviously have some money, so when the price is least we know what we're paying. So we took off from Dominical after a beautiful....haha.....pshhh NOT, rest. Remember the kids in the last post, I don't know how they do it. Bed at 3 am, up at 7 am. Wish I could do it too, I'd get a lot more travel done that way. Anyway, I snacked on bananos while Nik ate breakfast at the pricier restaurant beside the hotel. It was time to roadtest our clutch cable invention. 20km, 40km, 100km, it was doing the trick. I picked up another cable just in case this one went, so we'd have a backup. But it helps when the Costa Rican roads are pretty well maintained. We traveled along the southern route, the CA-2 I believe, which, with intent on going to the volcano, was most definitely the longer route since the other border post north of us would have been MUCH less busy and it pops out 40 km from the Baru Volcano. Regardless, we were still making good time, when BAM! Tractor trailer in the ditch, whole way across the road. I decide to get to the front of the 200 car lineup to see whats going on, and a bunch of guys block the road with their cars so we can't get by to try and sneak past. I turn off the bike and get ready for a nice long nap when it seems some people are getting restless. One guy on a 150cc bike sneaks under the tow trucks towing cables. Yeah, easy for him, his moto is no heavier than a pedal bike. Our turn....we start getting the usual "haha gringos doing silly things" look and with a hell of a lot of strength we get first my bike, then Nik's almost horizontal under the cables. I'd say fully packed, the bikes are 400lbs + 100 packed? Anyway, we got through and saved a good couple hours waiting around, we pranced on past the cars on the other side prancing and weaving across the road like we were champions. Good news!!! We'll be at the Volcano by early afternoon!!! Unless...a certain...borderpost delays us for nearly 4 hours. Yeah, they can never be easy. The exit procedure built our confidence in an easy passage as it took no more than 10 minutes. If you have read the "Central American Wisdom" guide the part about Costa Rica – Panama border crossing is bullshit. It's not a piece of cake, it was in my opinion both the lengthiest and complicated thus far. Luckily however, they are a lot of english speaking locals and travelers who definitely help out to fast-forward the process. Everyone seemed to be there to help each other, but all we're frustrated at the time it took in line. Just in case your crossing into Panama in the next few hours:
  • Get a stamp for your passport, 1.00US from a guy walking around.
  • Also get a paper form to fill out, else you have to get back in line if you don't get one filled out beforehand.
  • Hand papers over to Migracion, let them do their thing.
  • Get insurance, $15.00US from across the road
  • Get insurance stamped in upstairs office
  • Wait in Aduana line and they will eventually check everything and enter it into the computer; make sure nothing is wrong, or have to start paperwork over again (us)
  • Get another customers officer walking around to check your bike, another stamp.
Actually, writing it makes it seem a lot easier, its just when there's hundreds of people all trying to do the same thing it gets hectic, but we were able to do everything before it was due.

OK!! Now we're in Panama, back to American dollars, American food and hot hot weather. The first region you drive through in Panama is Chiriqui, a nice introduction to the developing country. The infrastructure here in EXCELLENT. It was a nice two lane paved road right into David, an hours drive. We drove through what seemed like a flash flood, but was soooo refreshing to be soaked in the heat, definitely cannot complain about that, we've only had one traveling day of rain so far. David is the third biggest city in Panama (there aren't many cities in this country) and our attention was immediately drawn to a Mcdonald's billboard. Supper MOST DEFINITELY:
For 12.99, you receive the Big Box meal (why can't developed countries offer such gold)
  • two milkshakes
  • three hamburgers of your choice
  • two pieces of kfc-style chicken(but better)
  • four medium french fries
Until now I have pondered why I have chosen to ride this I know why. Every Mcdonald's in Panama offer's this deal...I may never leave.

Enough about dinner :O We needed to get to Boquette before dark, if only we could find the road. There were no signs, no directions, no big enough roads going up into the hills (I bet it was right beside the Mcdonald's billboard), so once again the Volcanoes of Central America have eluded us. So it with great defeat that we could not witness, climb or experience any volcanoes here. Disappointingly we rode on into the darkess. For me, I don't mind riding at night. As a cardinal rule that shouldn't be broken, I've never had any trouble so far and would recommend it if necessary. Mind you, I wouldn't stop unless I really had to, but riding at night offers its own solitude. You avoid the heat of the sun, distances seem to accumulate much faster, and I like following the contours of a decently paved road at night to hone up on riding skills. Remember, Panama has some awesome roads.

As we rode, we decided to stop at the first hotel we could find. Amazingly enough, the Paradise Inn in Lajas snuck up on us. 4Km off the main road and 5 minutes from the ocean, this place is number one in my books for accomodation. It loses points for not being on the ocean, so it's hard to compare with Verde Mar in Manual Antonio, but this place was rockin'. Quiet, full of people from Canada, and one room left. All the plam trees were lit up with red and green spotlights, christmas lights, very cool villa-style rooms. We had A/C, fans, hot water, two full sized beds across 300-400 square feet, a hammock, and a FRIDGGEEEEE. Ohh yeah, cold beers. And for the first time, we were able to negotiate from 50 down to 40. We are beginning to understand how this game works.

The pool was nearly olympic sized and all to myself, so while Nik checked up on his facebook page, I had myself a pool + camera frenzy. I could have stayed there for days.....BUT ALAS, we have to find a boat.....

So this morning we rode onwards, we needed to cover over 500 kilometres, so we jumped up to a 7:45am start. Food in Panama is cheappppppp, breakfast: awesome scrambled eggs served with Beavertails sans butter, $2.85. Even lunch, a massive plate of combination chinese rice, the size of two stomachs, $4.00.

The roads continued beautifully until we transversed into the next region. It confused me why the roads suddenly turned to much worse shape, until I realized the obvious difference sin regional governments. The budgets can't be matched, much like you'd see an infrastructure difference between Ottawa and Montreal (anyone who's driven Montreal knows they leave the city 2 inches lower on their suspension). But by the time I thought things fully through, the road widened to two lanes once more as we approached major towns. From there...perfection, two lanes the entire way here. We have not experienced that yet, but are really glad as we needed to cover so much distance today.
I'll have to take a pic of my hands and arms, the sun was out in full force today and I had my sleeves up a bit. Looks like I dipped my hands in grape juice. Panama is impressively trying to match Costa Rica now in tourism, a lot of properties are going up along the coast, along with all-inclusive resorts sprinkled here and there. And the sheer size of Panama city itself was pretty breathtaking. We haven't really seen highrises since Galveston, TX, but we weren't going to stick around to get lost in the big city. A couple tolls later and on our reserve tanks, we found ourselves entering Colon – the port to get our boats. Where the hell do we begin though? After riding around a bit (Colon is a bit of an unfriendly tourist town, but very reminisicent of a run-down Havana), we got to the port entrance and immediately talked to the guard to see if there were options available (yeah, Nik's idea, no fooling around I guess, I just wanted more hotels). Anyway, our best bet we were told was to head to Portobello, a town 30km down the coastline. Off we went in search of boats, I knew at this point, there'd be no way of getting on a cargo boat, as this town was much smaller in size.

Now that we're here, I think I might be falling in love with it. Its quaint, small, but it reminds me of the town thats sacked in Pirates of the Caribbean. Hilly, historic, and lots of friendlies. In fact, this town was sacked by Captain Morgan himself (see how to barrel stance). There is supposedly a lot of treasure buried around, but I don't think we're in for the long haul.

The hostel we were recommended to was run by a fellow named Dennis, called Captain Jack's. This is the place to go to catch a boat: all the captains mosy on up and talk to travelers, get a beer, or just hang out. Dennis can also set you up with a boat. We talked to a few fellows and had a few beers here, but unfortunately, unless we were to sleep on the couch (which was delightfully offered), there were no rooms available, so we said we'd be back in the morning to discuss the few options we were given tonight:
  • Luc on his 55 foot Catamaran, no timeframe yet, sounds costly.
  • Canadian Doug with his sailboat, might leave if enough people, bit cheaper methinks
  • Captain John of the Wild Card, huge 60 foot steel hull, probably costly, might not leave for awhile.
Those are our options here in Portobello for now. Looks like we play the waiting game to see exactly when we can get on a boat. We might take a drive up to Puerto Lindo tomorrow, but we're not sure if there are main roads from here. It's less than 10km, but the map shows no roads. Weird enough, this is where Hostel Wunderbar is located, and the contact I've been talking to to get us a boat from there. We'll see tomorrow, as there might be more options up there.

Right now I again have no internet, so as I post this I will know more, but tonight we are staying at a fine little hotel where our bargaining skills honed even more!! Another 55 for 40 deal. We're happy, it's oceanfront (nice and calm) with a beach, hammocks, massive dock; we have 400 channels (YAY FINALLY TV AGAIN no more crappy Two and a Half Men downloaded on the laptop), A/C, three beds, awesomely decorated. Cold water, but after today, it's all I wanted.

Alright, next post should be shortly, updating on what's going on, Captain Jack's hostel has internet so I should be able to post from there when we get a room. For now, I'm going to rest my hands, I feel I can create flames from my palms....I really should wear gloves when I ride.

OK UPDATE:: YOU GET NO PICS!!! There's scarce internet here, a landslide wiped out 8 people and the internet.....the internet NOT being the important part of that equation. Anyway, the internet we're getting for 2.00 an hour from the emergency line at the police station is too slow to upload a lot of pics. I might be back later to upload the rest to you, in which case, you all owe me 2.00 for your viewing pleasure! So we're still looking for boats, and I'll post again soon.

YOU try fitting your bike under that wire.....without losing a breath

Our bikes getting a nice wash in Portobello

Thursday, January 27, 2011

When the Going Gets Tough..... - Rob

DRAMMMAAAAA....not between me and Nik though, between me and my damn bike. What is with it, not liking this whole trip? You know, its very rare a KLR gets to make it through this many countries, I don't know what it has to complain about (ok, now I'm starting to sound scary) but still it manages, and ..well...sorta accomplishes. Maybe Costa Rica doesn't want me to leave? Maybe I have bad luck...but Nik's "plus mileage" thumper seems to be going the distance and fairing pretty well.

So here we are, in Dominical this evening, we weren't really supposed to be in Dominical this evening, but this is the reason we are here.
This is a normal looking clutch cable, near the plates.

This is now my clutch cable.....for now...
Not that it has impeded us by any means, but here's what happened:

We enjoyed a nice breakfast of bananas (yes I finally found bananas, at 10 cents a pop, and it's all I've been eating to stuff myself up and gain back some weight) and marshmallows and everything fatty and starchy, and prepared to take off today to Panama. My chain was tightened once more, the clutch cable was a tad loose, but nothing I haven't experienced before back in Canada. We decided overnight that we would head to the Volcan Baru park in Panama instead of spending another night in Dominical or elsewhere in Costa Rica. Don't get me wrong, Costa Rica is beauuuutifullllll. It is definitely the scenic and eye-catching, get-along part of the trip so far for me. For a developing country plagued with inflation and a so called lack of investment and infrastructure, they seem to hit certain nails right on the head. The obvious is tourism; billboards and signs beautifully decorated with captivating scenes of oceans, rivers, waterfalls, wildlife, elaborate and breathtaking properties, unlimited real estate potential. It makes it feel a little bit more like home, with that "paradisus" feeling. I could definitely see myself living here for a little while. Anyway, I'm off somewhere in no man's land again, lets get back to the point. I would like to stay in Costa Rica, but we are very unsure of the Panama-Cartegena boat situation. The helpful contact at Wunderbar hostel there has kept me up to date on all the boats coming and going. Well supposedly the only next one is flip flopping on the 6th of February. Thats a longgg ways away, which means lots of time here in Costa Rica to fool around, but we want to make sure its the only one. We have an enormous itinerary in South America, and leaving on the 6th isn't going to give me specifically, the time I need to see and sell the bike at the end.

So we took off this morning in the hopes of making it to at least Panama, and the park, and then travel the rest of the way from there. We got right past Dominical, 50 km into the days trip, when traffic came to a stop. I pulled the clutch to get going, stall....start it, pull it again, snap, stall....

Broken clutch cable, don't even know why, still trying to figure out if it was a fault of mine, or just an old cable. Regardless, trying to figure out what to do at the time? That one goes to Nik. I figured we'd tow me back to Dominical where we could come up with a plan. The man of the hour decided to grab the vice grips. This....will revolutionize the motorcycle industry. Ok forget clutch cables...forget needing to use your left hand to pull clutch....we found a new way to ride. Grip the grips over where the pull for the clutch plates goes inside the assembly. If I confused you with my non-technical words, in the picture, its the black thing the cable is tied to. With the grips fastened tightly, we started the engine (i was able to kick it into neutral) and pulled back on the grips while giving it some gas. Letting the grips go acts just like the clutch handle does, except with your leg. Getting the hang of it was pretty easy, and before you knew it we're cruising back down the road toward Dominical changing gears like no tomorrow. Kick back right leg, change gear with left. Just hope you don't need to pull a quick brake, cause there's no chance in hell.

We got to Dominical, where the speed bumps almost popped the vice grips 20 feet through someones window, and from there I had the honor of pushing it the rest of the way to a hotel. We're staying for 30 bones, the prices here food-wise are on par with Canada which kinda sucks, but we still have the problem with finding a clutch cable.

With some newly purchased Skype credits, I get to work with my horrible Spanish. I called San Jose, one week to get the part. El Salvador and our buddies, no guarantee and then the shipping part....Panama (I might be able to make it to Panama City with my new gadget) 15, shit out of luck. Wait a week here, Nik would have none of it. I'm a dumbass for scratching "clutch cable" off my necessary to pack list.....

So off I went on a mission to find a quick fix, another band-aid that should do the trick. I found a Honda dealer just down the road, and grabbed a cable from them. As you can tell, it's not quite the right specifications, but who's to say it won't do the trick. Time will tell. I'm gonna pick another one up in the event this one bites the dust before I can replace it. But it seems to hold for now, I just gotta be gentle with it again until ....I think the only next places that can get it are Colombia or Ecuador.

So with that problem solved, we were able to once again eat, drink, be merry, crash into some waves (its very violent here, lots of rip tides and plenty good for surfing), and watch movies. Because of the Ultimate High Speed of Manual Antonio, we were able to download 6 or 7 movies, a full season of 2 and a half men and of course the entire episode list of Dragonball GT. Ok, we definitely started grasping at straws, I don't even watch cartoons anymore, but call it a closet hobby (Steph knows it).

All's well, until the computer starts dying....I'm running on borrowed time now. Every time I shut it off I'm not sure if it'll get going again. I'm a computer guy, I know what's going on, the ram is garbage. I know electronics are expensive here, but it has to be fixed. I CANNOT GO without it!!!! Neither can my family go without keeping in touch almost every night. So I have to find me a Walmart and get some new chaps to keep this guy running. Shouldn't be a problem.

Other than that, the antibiotics are working wonders, (unless its the bananas, (I'm calling fruit on this one) I'm alllllllllmost back to normal. I'm not gonna say that I am, just in case my usual luck catches up to me.

So now the crappy day is done with, let's backtrack. The hotel we stayed at the night before, definitely the best thus far. So much positives about it.Quepos is just a cool town. Clubs, crazy mountain road, stunning villas, countless hotels, and plentiful retirees. The nice thing about older folk is they quiet down when the clock hits 6pm. Dinner's done, the booze sets in, peacefulness. Everyone gets a good nights sleep. See kids don't shut up. Case in point, the ten outside my windowless room right now. They'll stay up till the wee hours and that's why I'm starting to get a distaste for surf towns. Same stories, same stoners every time. I'm an old fart at heart. Sit me down with a couple of old ladies playing cribbage and drinking gin and tonic and I'm a happy man. Or a hermit...I haven't decided yet, I like that reality too.

We decided that since we were there, we'd check out the park. It's 10 bucks each to get in, which seemed a bit of an excess, but it must've meant the park was filled with exotic wildlife. Nah, mostly locals and beach bums having out and bbq'ing. Nono, actually it wasn't too bad, you just have to know where to go. The park only had like 4 trails open, I suppose at the end of the last rainy season, a lot of the good trails got wiped out. So after monkey sighting, frog watching, and sloth staring, we hit up a couple of the beaches that were there. Idiots as we are, we brought no fluids with us, and we're parched the entire time. "Enough is enough" we said, and popped ourselves into a restricted trail, the one that led to the only waterfall in the park. If there was any chance at liquid salvation, I was gonna take it. Besides, that's where you find real adventure. The trail was mangled, I have mucho video of it, but the HD makes it impossible to upload. You'll see it one day, in a month or so, but it was an interesting hike. The waterfall was infinitely rewarding. Cool, refreshing, smelly, but a total pay off for a hard days work. We were able to sneak out of the trail unnoticed, which is a next to impossible task when you have tour guides trained to spot any wildlife movement in the dense brush. We barely made it through the gap, but we had a good day. Finished it off with some pizza and air conditioning, I am most certainly going to miss that place.

I think that about covers it for now, if I get this computer running again I'll post again soon.

Bamboo is the only thing alive that tower's over Nik

A little ocean and jungle double header

These guys are adorable and loved by all the tourists

One of the many beaches dotting the park

We may have been the only ones to get here in what seemed like many seasons....and how lucky!

This made the whole day worth every penny

Here's tonights view of the ocean, its a bit dark here under all these trees...and moquitoey (just noticed the half person walking to the right...creepy..I won't sleep now)

I am richer than Rick Ross.....when seriously I have enough to a couple fancy steaks at the Keg.

I had a chance to upload a few videos too!!!

Here we are in Diriamba, Nicaragua, trying to sleep during the San Sebastien Festival that went on for a week. We both became sick this day, and needed to get the hell out of Dodge.

A much calmer video of us checking out some of the local beach wildlife in Manual Antonio, Costa Rica.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Livin' It Up Some - Rob

Super tired and its super late, for us anyway, so I'll make this one sorta short and sweet and filled with pics. We made it to Costa Rica, which I tell you was a bit of a hot and sweaty hassle at the border, it was the busiest one yet. Our first agenda in C.A. was to hit up the Rincon de la Vieja Park, near the border at Liberia. A dirt road takes you to the entrance, and a rather pricey hotel. We did not know that all parks in C.A. are closed on Monday, and this being a Sunday at 4:00pm, this is not a good start. Supposedly the hike up the mountain takes 8 hours and a guide is necessary. Nowhere did I read that any guides are necessary in these parks, regardless, it was 100.00 for the guide, 100.00 for the hotel, 20.00 for the mudbaths, we were having none of it.

Off we went back down the 20km dirt path to continue our way through Costa Rica. We knew there was no way in hell we'd get to any beach towns by nightfall, so we ate a quick meal (way more expensive to eat here, but of course its more touristy), and continued down the CA-1. Seems at any time this road is exceptionally busy, we were stuck behind 20 some-odd vehicles going 30-40kph. We figured this was no way to travel in the dark, so we packed it in at a so-so hotel off the side of the road. A cheapy, with a small pool, a decent sized room, but only a fan. We could of stopped at the Doubletree at Puntarenas, only in the morning did we find out its an all-inclusive resort, yahhhh right.

In the morning we headed further down the Pan-Am, had a quick breakfast at a decent looking place. Nik ordered Mexican Style eggs, and if you remember from San Cristobal, that was how it was done right. This was brown soup with runny sunny side up eggs. Man I could have served him that meal from our hotel room ( I need not say more, that was uncalled for, and yes I am still stomach-sick). After a few hours we made it to Quepos, to the National Park, Manuel Antonio. Of course, it's Monday, its closed (this is when we finally figured it out), so we began looking for hotels to stay the night because we can't miss out on at least hitting up one park in Central America (this being one of the most popular). Quite a place around here, ripe with hotels, hostels, resorts, beaches, beautiful. After scouring some 100.00+ hotels (for no apparent reason were they this price other than the fact its a tourist whitey-white town), we stumbled across this little gem. Oh, what a gem.....for 130.00 a night couples can stay and enjoy a kitchenette, a pool, oceanfront property, restaurant....well, we lucked out on 45.00. Yep, lucky. We don't have the kitchenette, in fact, we have a puny little room tucked away from everyone else on bunk beds, but who cares, its the amenities that are important. We might stay here awhile. Its called the Villas Verde Mar de la Pacifico, if anyone else is interested in trying to sneak this 45.00 a night room on the beach.Highly recommended. We've been here, relaxing and swimming, taking in the sites, everything is about doubled here, but slightly within our means. Tomorrow we check out the park, and I'll be back with some pictures, and hopefully some videos too. The internet here is mega-fast. lets hope I can get some youtube videos up.

this is our view from out firs tCosta Rican hotel, right by the ocean!!

Niks face, ready for some Mexican Ranchero!! FAIL

Joca, C.A., quite the lookout

Now we're at Quepos, a destination spot in C.A. I've never heard about, but seems quite popular

Our first little monkey sighting!!

This would be the awesome hotel, take note

Ask Nik how awesome, oh wait, hes enjoying too much

The massive-est palm trees I've ever seen

I'm starting to sport a nice Ranchero stache.

Just some beauty

I told you our room was tiny, hell, it beats 130.00 a night though doesnt it.

"Why can't Canada always be this nice"

We competed for biggest wave

I got a bit too close :P

This is the Manual Antonio park

We found us some fire ants, demolishing a tree piece by piece

We decided to aid them in their mission

They're friendly, really, you should drop by a next sometime and say hello

Enjoying our dinner, alone again!

Can't decide if this is the nicer sunset or San Juan

I need another pic to decide......