Sunday, June 25, 2017

Panama, Stahlratte

Did I mention it rained a bit while we were on this adventure? We crossed into Panama 11-01, and as usual, it was raining cats and dogs. We were, at this point, excited that in twelve days our bikes were to be loaded on the Stahlratte, for our crossing to Columbia. Needless to say we couldn't wait. I'd planned to have a week leeway, in case of issues, or problems. We had made reservations for the Stahlratte,, a year in advance. We chose not to stay in David which looked to be a little rough after crossing the border. ( mistake). We rode on for about 100 miles and it was getting late, and raining hard! At one point we stopped at a gas station, and inquired about hotels. Next town, etc. 2.5 hours!! South or back to David. We chose to continue, and I saw a sign for a Hotel. It was just luck and that's all it was. The resort was German owned. We had a great dinner, and shots. As you go further South, towns, fuel, and food become greater distances between.
Santa Catalina, on the Pacific Coast side. We had time to kill, so we headed over the mountains and relaxed .
We tried to find a Hostel called Blue Zone, but it was like deliverance, and wasn't up to par so we chose Jammin' Pizza Hostel.This parade is in remembrance of the dead. This little guy was out in front and he was so cool.
Back to that shower head that is supposed to supply hot water. More than not, we didn't have hot, even with this device. To be honest in the hot, humid regions, no big deal, but up in the mountains, and elevations of 10-15000 feet you want a hot shower!
This is in Santa Fe valley. As I stated earlier, I'd had enough of the tourist towns, and I wanted little mountain town hang outs. We went on a hike, but couldn't find the trail head. We asked a young man who drove by in a beat up Toyota truck. He told us to get in, and drove up this rocky, rutted, dirt road and dropped us off. This was to happen numerous times on this adventure. People will escort you, or go out of their way for 20-50 Km. to get you in the right direction.
Hostel La Qhia in Sana Fe was absolutely fantastic. The people were great, friendly, and  the room was quite comfortable. Now the neighbors next door were loud, and their chickens never slept. Welcome to South of the Border!
The young children were busy on their playground equipment.
In El Valle, we decided to get a hot spring in . Water was dirty but the water itself was hot and felt great.
Below, That woman scares the crap out me, oh it's only a mud mask. I passed on that option.
Can't go to Panama without visiting the great Canal.

The skyline of Panama City
Another cigar shop. Need I say more?
Kicking back at our Hostel, Panama Hat, enjoying some win, and a fresh cigar. I am enjoying life, and my retirement is going as planned.
This place was on Booking. Com and believe me when I say "How the hell did that happen?" It was outside of P. city, on the way to our rendezvous with the Stahlratte. This place was way up on a hill/mountain, and was muddy as all get out. Horses were walking around, and their crap was everywhere . Rustic would be an over statement. The first thing the next day, we lit out like the law was after us. Look back? Oh no, just put it behind us.
Stacie and her pass time of knitting socks, while on our ride.

This sloth was in the road on our way to El Valle. We initially thought a wreck was ahead of uss but a guy was trying to get the sloth off the roadway.
Below, the view of El Valle surrounded by Volcanoes. We stayed at The Windmill Hostel, owned by an American. We also were here for THE ELECTION. The owner was beside himself that trump better win and we agreed. Stacie checked F.B. throughout the night and about 2 or 3 A.M, she called it, and we finally went to sleep. Our prayer's answered.
Back at the Canal, this is the newest channel for the BIG DOG ships.
 These are mules, that pull the ships through the channel. The crews themselves, are not allowed to operate the vessels. The crews from the P. C. take over operations of their vessels.
A brand new vessel, and crew. First time through the canal. Check out the guy taking selfies.
Back at P.City old town and the vendors trying to make a buck off the tourists.

Oh the time has come for us to get on our sail boat, in order to cross the channel to Columbia.This is the famous Stahlratte Sailboat, built in 1903, or so, originally as a war ship.
Get your bags, gear, and personal belongings off the bikes, so that the crew can take it out to the boat.
EVERYONE was excited, and talk was in the upper register.
We put ropes that they supplied around our frame and fork support. Honkey is ready to go.
We were taken to an Island where we spent the night, while all our paperwork was taken care of.

A fantastic sunset in the San Blas Islands.
I thought this isn't going to end pretty. A bunch of drunks with a machete, trying to crack a coconut. They didn't loose any limbs, and no medics were needed in the end.
Scott, one of our ship mates. He rode a KTM, and had numerous mechanical issues throughout his adventure.
Yep, she's in San Blas Heaven.
Below Vicki, a ship hand from Germany. The crew was great, food fantastic, and our crossing was without any sickness!
The Island people brought us fresh lobster's.
This reminded me of the Shining. Vicki, cutting and cleaning the Lobsters.
Captain Ludwig, and his Sunday outfit. This guy is just an all around funny, happy guy. He is doing what he loves. I'd do this adventure again, just to do the Stahlratte .
The water is crystal clear. this was taken from aboard the vessel looking down into the water.

We boarded a dingy for our voyage to the island to enjoy a BBQ lobster dinner. I had 1.5 lobsters and Stacie had 2. Succulent to say the least.
Dieter and Patrick. We had 25 people on the boat, and 19 bikes.
I awoke at 04:30, while all other's slept. These photos were taken as the sun rose. I think they are some of the best. San Blas Islands.

This was another crew member, his English was pretty non existent, but he communicated just fine. He had been a crew member for at least 7 years.
Below the skyline of Cartagena, Columbia. We had just missed a hurricane .
On the Island we all were pampered with great food and beverages.
Our bunk on the boat. All our gear is stored in a big ass closet.
The man MUST have his tunes.
Lobster anyone?
Below, customs in Columbia. They came on board to inspect the vin's and insurance papers. What is great, Stahlratte takes care of both ends in Panama and Columbia.

The famous toilet lever that must be cranked @ 26 times to flush. With my hurting ribs I learned quickly to begin pumping while sitting.
Ludwig and Hanna, getting our bikes ready for inspection, and unload in Columbia.

Sit down relax and let it go to the fish!!!!!!!!!!