The “What and Where” – Impressions of the next 15 Days on the road
(as TBE posts “daily updates” these are just impressions, not daily info)
One foot still in the ” comfort zone”……
The legendary Florida Keys beckon (Sept.13), Jimmy Buffet-land…..we are excited; We meet the first significant rain on the journey so far, but “we don’t care” ( see “honey badger” reference)……it is warm and a welcome refreshing change from the heavy humid air that we exist in daily now that we are on the Gulf Coast and fast approaching the meeting place of the Caribbean Sea and the West Atlantic Ocean; we rendevouz with our guide to the Keys, The Big Easy’s good friend “Wingman”(whose real name can never be revealed as he booked off sick from work to ride with us)…..who joins us on his brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle; Wingman literally flies on his magic black harley as he races us through the stunningly heavy rain that has enveloped all of south florida…..heavy but oh so warm…..no coats, just feeling the wind and rain pounding against us, laughing and hooting and trying to see through the rain to find out where we are being led; beers and fish just this side of the tollbooth that is the gateway to the keys…….Alabama Jack’s, a loose collection of ramshackle tin and palapa roofs strung over a plank dock on the side of the swamp, home-built bar on one end and greasy kitchen at the other end….in between a motley collection of unmatched chairs and tables stewn about in no apparent order……filled with bikers racing and rolling to the keys for the “harley weekend”; long undulating raised highways connect each island (Key)…….miles and miles and miles of them……bars and houses and shops line each little settlement, birds and fishers and boats dot the water in between; rain, sun, rain, sun……getting soaked, having the wind and sun dry us out, then rain again and that weather cycle repeats itself over and over…..never the same feeling from moment to moment; a fun introduction; Key West……bikes and beers and little old front-porched houses out of the old south plantation era……majical; The Eden House hotel, a beautiful oasis amongst the chaos of 20,000+ harley riders frantically partying in the heat and humidity and beer-soaked atmosphere; gun-toting biker philosophers abound, Pepe’s for breakfast, B.O.’s fish taco stand for lunch or a hurried dinner; Duval Street happy chaos……always the roaring of the harley engines, blaring of loud music and the smell of alcohol; then, back to miami, back to reality…..laundry, mail, last-minute preparations in a place where we mostly understand the language, servicing the bikes before shipping to south america; the funky surreal days at the La Quinta airport motel, nestled beside the BMW service center and a little shopping mall on a major highway that is surprisingly filled with most of the services we need, along with the best and only little peruvian restaurant I had ever been in; La Quinta motel, filled to the brim with migrant mexican workers and their families, the room next to us receiving male visitors at all hours of the night, people admiring our motorcycles and talking, talking, talking to us about them…….lots of fun and full of life; Javier’s shipping shop……initially we are a little reluctant to believe that we should leave our bikes there but that only lasts a second…..the suspension of disbelief and we move ahead, assured by Javier and his crew that our babies are in good hands;
Key West Bar Sign
Bob’s Bike being “towed”. A good place for something bad to happen – good karma
- Alabama Jack’s – Gateway to the Keys
Ted and friends in Key West
- Chillin’ at Eden House
Watch out for Dolphin Crossings in the Keys!
- One foot “outside the comfort zone”…..”oh why didn’t I spend more time learning spanish”….doh
It is time……Cartagena, our gateway to South America, is the next destination…….off to the airport; beers in the airport, beers on the plane…..fervently flipping through our spanish phrase books, imploring our Colombian hostesses to understand our feeble attempts to communicate; looking skeptical about the guidance our “official translator”, The Big Easy, is offering…….checking my dictionary to find out that the spanish phrase he told me to say to the hostess meant “I want your hair” and luckily avoiding another confused or amused look from our flying hosts; touching down in Medellin…..South America at last…….the airport a combination of the familiar and the exotic; rush, rush, rush to catch our connecting flight…..minor confusion but we make it, no problem; the giggling hostesses “smuggle” us our first Colombian beer (beer is only for “business class” on this flight, don’t you know); Cartagena airport, collecting bags, well-organized taxi service, a quick drive to the Hotel Santa Cruz in the historic old town……..the air is unbelievably heavy with humidity and heat, even after dark, we are drenched with sweat; our room is a four-bunk “hostel” room but it is all we need; smells and sounds of an ancient city, almost 500 years old; narrow streets, two and three story buildings only 15 feet apart on the second floor as it seems their balconies can almost reach across the road and touch; bouganvilla vines and flowers on the balconies; bright latin colours on the buildings; a first night-time exploration through the quiet dark streets, seeking food; a small square with a little park and a few restaurants with outdoor seating…small dinner, happy chatter, horse-drawn carriages taking lovers on a late-night romance, and more beer….but this time it’s Colombian beer…..Aguila and Colombian Rojo….a good start; the next day…..rooftop “simple” breakfast we struggle to order with our rudimentary spanish; on to the street……people, people everywhere…..coming and going, crowding the streets; noise……chattering, honking, clanging and banging…the ever-present blistering sun and drenching humidity; hawkers and charlatans trying to entice us; walking, walking, walking, exploring; school children asking to have their pictures taken with us; on the third day we move from the old city to the “modern beach area”…….now chafing to get our motorcycles and, while interested in the City, much more interested in starting the ride, exploring the continent, planning routes, readying travel documents, tracking the shipping progress of our motorcycles; we are not exactly “killing time” but we only have “one foot” still in Cartegena, the other is already out on the road; Bogota……a very large City, almost 9 million people; we fly there two days before our bikes are scheduled to arrive, to explore the city and to “prepare” for the big moment when our bikes land;
Bogota…….we were “told” that to go to Bogota “without guns” was suicide. I am here to tell you that is not true. We have had an absolute riot in Bogota. It is “zurich” in latin america. Like any big city you need to “pay attention” but the fact is that almost everyone is friendly and helpful. A big (8.6 million people) city, but full of life. Dental work in Bogota is actually a “happy experience” and almost free….seriously…… No humidity; friendly people; a few “gringo-haters” but “no problem”……just smile and try to embarass yourself with bad spanish and everyone smiles and tries to chat with you. Last night, after a fun meal in “le macarena” district we ended up in a bar (what a surprise) near our hotel that was a throw-back and “house of worship” for 60’s and 70’s rock bands…..as goofy as this sounds, it was a riot….$1 beer, great artwork and great music….how good can it get; dogs in Bogota….I am happy to report that people love dogs in Bogota…..how people treat animals is a good predictor of how kind their culture is……dogs rule here….it is a very kind culture. Love it.
Cool Murals everywhere in Bogota
Guy getting tooth fixed in Bogota …happy colombian dentist
Old School Rock in Bogota – The Doors, Hendrix, et al…..$1 beer
Wednesday, September 26th…..we thought we would repatriate our “babies” (our motorcycles) today at the airport but it is truly “manana” as, despite representations from our shipping agent in Florida, the cargo company in Bogota thought we were “cute but confused” and told us to come back “manana”. We now hope to pick up the bikes on September 27th and start heading toward Peru. Stay tuned for more on our hoped-for success in the next blog.
Karmic aspects of the trip:
Since my last blog I am happy to report that, while we have endured several interesting problems (Guy’s bike needed to have a coil replaced; Bob’s bike need to have an electrical problem repaired; I seemed to somehow contract a rather severe case of food poisoning in Miami; Guy had a crown on one of his molars decide to fall out in Bogota and the experience of trying to get this fixed convinced us that Bogota is truly a great place. Our “karma” so far can be summarized as “if something is going to go wrong, this is as good as it gets”. Bad things happened but in the best possible scenario. We are definitely lucky so far. “mucho suerte”.
Stay safe, enjoy life, choose happiness.
Ustedes no esta solo ; Ustedes tienen el Gang of 4