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Ok, Ive been really dropping the ball on the blog. Many days of mainly hanging out in Bogota. Not many pics. But here’s are the few days in a nutshell:

Monday 11/23/2009

Today Aifa arrived. It was great to finally meet her. I looked for any features similar to Michelle. Sorry M, I just didn’t see any. Sure you’re related?

That night I met more of Aifa’s family who live in a beautiful house up on the mountain outside Bogota. Here I gave the 411 on the Babbitt’s. No worries guys, I you made you sound like rock stars. You all need to visit by the way.

Tuesday 11/24/2009

I took the bike to the BMW dealer. Initially I wanted to get some tranny fluid, but I found out that the bike had a recall on the fuel pump modulator last month. So I decided to let them change it out and do the tranny fluid at the same time.

In the process they dropped the bike bashing in the left pannier. I realize shit happens, but what pissed me off was that they denied they dropped it. The red scrape was identical in color to their bike lift too. Mechanic job security, fix one thing just to break something else in the process.

I took a piece of wood and mallet and bashed the box back in to shape. Hopefully it doesn’t leak now.

Wednesday 11/25/2009

I decided to push leaving Bogota one more day, because Maria wanted to cook a small feast for us. So at lunch time we all headed out to Felipe’s house. They told me Maria could cook, but WOW, what an incredible lunch. Slow cooked ribs where the meat almost falls off the bone, perfectly cooked chicken, deep fat fried plantains, coconut rice that was to die for, and a vegetable soup (Maria’s specialty) that was simply amazing.

The whole time I’m thinking I should be taking them all out to dinner. They stored my bike, gave me a place to stay, and now they’re cooking me a going away lunch. I’m simply at a loss. These are the best people. I will pay this forward.

So tomorrow I head out and get back on the road. It’s good to stay an extended time in one place. It’s the only way to get a good feel for an area. On the bike, I blow through too many places too quickly. Perhaps this ride is just a sampling of many places. In the future I’ll return to explore further.


While its cool to simply hang with my new Bogota buds, I must not neglect the tourist stuff. Just gotta do it. So I headed out on the TransMilenio to check out some of the sites.

On Sundays they close some of the streets to cars. Bikes and foot traffic only.

Lot of street performers were out:

The presidential palace:

This area was controlled pretty heavily. They searched everyone walking by.

First on the agenda was the Museo del Oro, the gold museum. Here they have a huge collection of gold artifacts dating back about 2500 years. Various methods of working with gold and other metals was on display. One elaborate method was called the lost wax method. Reminded me of the lost foam technique used today.

Death mask. This was put over the faces of dead people:

Next was the military museum. No pics allowed except for outside. It had the usual assortment of weapons, but what caught my eye were the original Gatling guns. I’ve never seen or touched one before. Work of art.

After that I check out a Cathedral. By accident actually. I sort of stumbled inside. This was the only place that wanted money, and it was also the most uninteresting place I’ve been to. Maybe if you know something about religion you might get something out of it. I stayed about 5 minutes.

Then it was on to the Museo Historico Policia, the museum of police history. Now this is a must for anyone visiting Bogota. A young police recruit takes you on the tour. The place has a random collection of police artifacts not only from Bogota, but from all over the world. Somethings didn’t seem like they belonged here, and you had to strain to make the connection.

A gun guitar:

It ends with a display on the shooting of Pablo Escobar. Three rooms devoted to him. They had many of his personal items on display like his custom desk, camcorder and sun glasses.

The bloody roof shingle Pablo’s head came to rest on when he was killed. Why would anyone keep something like this?

To top it off, they had a dummy Pablo Escobar on display.

The recruit that gave the tour:

I ended the day with the changing of the guards at the presidential palace. Soldiers and a band marched to the palace. The ceremony included the most elaborate flag folding process Ive ever seen.

Kick ass day.


After yesterday’s nightmare, it was time to take a step back, relax and get a little walking tour of part of Bogota. Roger, who is currently living with Aifa, and Felipe who’s got the bike took me around a bit.

First Roger and I jumped on the TransMilenio, the mass transit system here in Bogota to meet up with Felipe.

First they took me to see a friend who was setting up a green house in his backyard to grow exotic plants.

Coco plant:

Venus fly traps:

Pitcher plants:

No explanation required:

Between the homes are common areas making the neighborhoods really nice.

Next it was off to the mall:

And finally some food and brews:

From the left: Roger, Felipe, Felipe’s friend (forget his name), me

Got a real good feel for the town from our little walk about. This town is starting to grow on me.


The flight to Bogota was one of the best I’ve ever had. First row on the plane, nobody next to me, window, nice beverage, what else could one ask for. Immigration was quick. My bag was the first off the conveyor. Walked outside and my cab was waiting to take me to my hotel. This is how traveling should be.

I decided to stay at the same hotel as Graham and Sue. They had researched it and found something for pretty cheap in the heart of the city. The room was no larger than a dorm and had no window, but who hangs out in the room anyway.

The next morning we took the train to Montezalit, a cathedral that overlooks the city. From here you had a spectacular view of the entire city.

The cathedral:

Cool flower:

The next day’s mission was to to collect Ruby from the shipping company and get her through customs. Importing and exporting her has always been pretty easy. Too easy if you read some of the reports of travelers that have gone before me. Today was payback with a vengeance. Here is the sequence of events:

1 ) First was a cab ride to Girag the shipping company that had Ruby.
2 ) Girag gave me the paperwork take to customs.
3 ) Took my cab to the customs office.
4 ) At the customs office, I was able to get the necessary paperwork fairly quickly.
5 ) Went to make the photocopies in the building next door.
6 ) Waited in the customs office for 2 hours (told it would be about 15 minutes)
7 ) Learned that I was given the wrong paperwork. Start again.
8 ) New photocopies had to be made.
9 ) Take my cab with a custom’s inspector back to Girag.
10) Inspector checks the VIN
11) We take my cab back to the customs office.
12) Wait another 30 minutes.
13) Make some more photocopies
14) Wait another 20 minutes
15) Make some more photocopies
16) Take cab back to Girag with all the necessary paperwork
17) Put Ruby back together.
18) Finally follow the cab to the house where I will store the bike.

In the end the whole process took about 6 hours. Absolute nightmare.

Through a friend, I have a place to store my bike and a place to stay. Ruby is staying with Felipe, while I’m staying with Aifa, the cousin of my friend Michelle in L.A. This is so much better than a hotel. It is so nice to get to hang with locals. A lot of really good home cooking as well. Really happy to have been setup like this. Hope I can return the favor some day.


I arrived in at Panama City in a massive down pour. Very unfortunate because I crossed one of the most beautiful bridges, the Panamanian Centennial Bridge. An amazing bridge. Here’s a Wikipedia link if interested:

Centennial Bridge Link

As is customary for me when entering any city, I got completely lost. I was trying to find my way through to the Tocumen Int’l Airport. Decided to ask a cop on a scooter, and he volunteered to show me the way. What followed was the most insane ride through the inner city. The cop was like Moses. He would honk his horn, and the traffic would part. It was my job just to stay on his ass the whole time. But he was on a tiny scooter and could slip between anything. The big GS on the other hand … well I’m simply amazed at what the big GS could squeeze through. I was constantly thinking I’m going to hit, there’s just no way. But in the end we came through unscathed.

Found a hotel near the airport so I could drop off the bike at Girag first thing. Ran in to the English couple Sue and Graham again. They were staying at the same place. What a surprise.

The next morning I got the bike to Girag. They had me take the windscreen and mirror off, but did not ask about the battery or fuel left in the tank. After jumping through the custom’s office hoops, all was done.

Next I headed out to the Canal. Just made it to see the last one leaving.

They had a museum there of course, and it was a mad house. Imagine a small room packed with people, kids screaming and running amuck, while explosion sounds played over the loud speakers every 5 seconds. It was chaos. They did have this very cool ship simulator though. You could watch the ship go through the canal from the Captains deck.

And so ends my Central American journey. Tomorrow I fly out to Bogota, Colombia. Good times await.


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