Archive for August, 2009

Big balls or no brains

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

San Jose, Costa Rica, august 27th 2009

The second attempt to leave La Vida Loca is succesfull. The first one on sunday turns into a late night party, what else can I say, I like Jimbo’s parties. On mondaynight, despite good intentions, it gets late again but this time I don’t sleep in & we leave. Sweet memories swirl in my brain as I take Betsy for her final spin on the beach. As Marcus and me ride out of town it rains, just a little bit and that will be on and off during the day. On some unpaved road of about 15 miles I’m just happy it’s dry. We could reach San Jose before dark if we wanted but it doesn’t seem smart to me, everybody says the city is a traffic nightmare. So we sleep in Atenas, which is supposed to have world’s best climate, always between 17 and 37 degrees Celcius.

Next day we hit San Jose easily. Can’t be missed. Soon we loose our way in town, just no directions! I stop at a gassattion. The guys there can’t really help me, but a mecanic next door can. When we walk together out of his small but deep transmission shop, he almost jumps in the sky from joy seeing Betsy. You believe in coincidence? This guy owned a bike like mine when he lived in Texas. Blindfolded he can name and point all typical Harley flathead parts. He has a nice solution for our destiny for the day, hotel La Castilla, managed by Darren, a friend of Jimbo’s. He calls his buddy Johann who has a day off. Within half an hour he shows up on a 1966 Harley. It takes a small hour to ride up to the hotel. Next Johann (see me and Johann riding through the San Jose streets at YouTube, press on: Johann) directs me through motorcycle shops and H-D dealers. I find my oilfilter and buy the genuine heavy weight (single grade 60) oil, yihaa! When we are back at Dante’s shop to change the oil, he tells me that a lot of people showed up when we left his place on our bikes. The guys of the gassation where unanymous talking about Betsy and me, ‘man that guys’s gotta have either big balls or no brains’, they just couldn’t or wouldn’ believe I drove a 1943 motorcycle all the way from Alaska to Costa Rica.

The hotel is in the heart of the nightclub area. Ever since Nicaragua I’ve been hearing stories about La Rey in San Jose, Central America’s most famous brothel. In the evening Dave, one of the regulars of the hotelbar takes me on a cultural tour. From club to bar to club to bar, a beer at every joint, to La Rey to the bar the daughter of his girlfriend works as a bartender. Dave could be my father but he almost turns in to my father-in-law when I meet his ‘daughter’. I had to take a deep breath to leave. Going by cab we skip the transvestites, well, I couldn’t see it but the ‘experts’ tell me they are boys, but sure good-looking ones!

Friday going into the direction of Panama.

The trail

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

Playas del Coco, Coasta Rica, auguts 23th 2009

Nothing happens without a reason. After the live concert at saturday of Uel Jackson from Texas and the gas donation party for Betsy, I stay around La Vida Loca for a while. Man, I love it, the guys & gal from Oklahoma, the southern beauties from Louisiana, Erik from Holland with his singer songwriter gigs, the La Vida Loca regulars, it’s just so nice to spent time with them! At tuesday Derek shows up earlier as expected, what a pleasant surprise and another reasom to stay a few days. Although a lot of time I just hang around, I get some great opportunities, a day at sea with an original French sailing vessel from 1957, get to play with a 1200cc Jetski at the ocean, incredible 60 miles an hour on the water, that’s faster as I do in the road folks!, see the sunset from a powerboat (two 8 cilinder 454 cu inch 450hp engines), man, this is such a nice treat and a different world as I’m used to.

On friday when I come back from the supermarket, worn out Croc’s, shorts, bar t-shirt, I see two motorcyclists. On the look for a parking & hotel. From Canada, Marcus and Scott. My turn for introduction but Marcus interrupts me, ‘are you the guy from Holland with the old Harley’ ‘Yes, I am’ ‘Man, we heard all about you since we entered Nicaragua’. ‘People ask if we follow his trail, or are gonna meet him?’. But best of all to me: ‘you know when you meet him, he’s always smiling’. And that’s exactly on the ball: although I am as poor from a materialistic point of view as I’ve ever been, I live for over a year now with all that I have in a big black plastic motorcycle bag, I am also the most happiest I’ve ever been. Every day I am truely grateful for the people I meet, the experiences I am allowed to encounter, and despite sickness & broken downs, to do what I do every day in liberty is the greatest gift I have ever received in my life!

Scott and Marcus split for a couple of days or weeks, Scott will go to the rain forest and Marcus would like to ride up with me for a few days. His roadtrip plan is awesome: Canada – Argentina – South-Africa – Europe – Mongolia – Japan, two years or more. Monday we’ll leave. The weather forecast isn’t good, rainy season really kicked off and partiaily we’ll go through rainforest. From here along the coast to Punta Arenas, ferry, San Jose (hope to find an oil filter there, would be nice, this one I replaced at Godspeed in Oakland, since Alaska 19.000 km) and on the PanAmerican highway to Panama. I’m looking forward to ride up with Marcus. Again like with Vern in Mexico a Kawasaki KLR 650 at my tail.  Like I said nothing happens without a reason, I haven’t been just hanging around,  it’s seems so nice to me to have his and my trail together for a few days.

Pura Vida

Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Playas del Coco, Costa Rica, august 13th 2009

Although I’m still in the northern part of Costa Rica, the country has a different ‘look & feel’ than the other Central American countries; Western style advertising on the side of the road, recently built cars on the road, supermarkets that have all you want for affordable prices, lots of gringo’s that live here, tourism, I’ve seen more Harleys here already than all the way from Mexico.

Playas del Coco is a tiny little beach town with a great bar on the beach, La Vida Loco. Jimbo, the owner takes care of me. Thursday afternoon he organises a ‘meet & greet’ the flying Dutchman as they call me over here and Betsy, my bike. Food, drinks and a pot for contributions for gas on the roadtrip. I’ve been on a short trip with the Hermosa Bad Boys, got a great t-shirt of them with a skull composed of female bodies (no offense ladies, just nicely done). Spent a day with my ‘gang of four’, four Dutch girls very independent, lively, direct, colourful, loads of humor, 100% nice. Even more amazing, I met Derek, an independent movie producer & editor of mainly documentaries. Although on holiday, he has 3 cameras with him, so after a wild night with him and my gang of four, on the next morning he filmed an interview with me, taped a camera on the bike, rode around town with that, strapped a camera on my helmet and again rode around town. His intention is to make a little roadmovie out of that for on the internet, makes me very curious. He set me up with a little camera for on my helmet, a must he thinks for the roadtrip, if I can get to him the recordings he’ll edit them and put them on internet, all when he’s back home in Hollywood after his holidays. Gonna be fun if I’ll be able to put some adventures on tape for the internet!

La Vida Loca

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Playa del Coco, Costa Rica, august 10th 2009

Yesterday I crossed the border, took me four hours to leave Nicaragua and enter Costa Rica, midday, hot and time consuming procedures, what a combination. What is it that makes those borders in Central America difficult? It’s not that those procedures are complicated. It’s that it’s so hard to know where you have to be and who to contact. The borders are a collection of little buildings. You have to follow the procedures (for myself and for the bike) step by step, each step sometimes in a different building. Buildings don’t have signs, and when you’re in the building, you have to find the exact official who carries out the step you need. Helpers can help you out with that, it costs a few bucks but they know where and who. Most of the times they can cut you short on time also, by placing helpers up front in waiting lines. By travelling alone I get harasses as soon as I hit a border by all sort of people who want to sell their help or just looking for a chance to rob you. By using helpers sometimes I can stay with my bike, or they put one of them aside Betsy.

Saying goodbye to Nicaragua was emotional, Jimmy Three Fingers and my girl rode along to the border, so going through a four hour border passing with the tears still behind my eyes, wasn’t easy, alone again, diesel fumes allover from the trucks & buses, people surrounding me trying to sell whatever, life ont the road again. Right now I’m in La Vida Loca, a bar restaurant in playa del Coco, Jimmy Three Fingers hoooked me up with his friend Jimbo, the owner. Yesterday I drove Betsy in via the beach for the celebration of Jerry Garcia’s passing, so live music and a load of Grateful Dead songs, just great, Betsy stayed for the night within the bar. Nice here in Costa Rica is that I meet fellow countrymen, after the Jerry Garcia celebration I had breakfast with four gorgeous Dutch girls, got some typical Dutch candy from Frans and hey, some people picked up my bill when they saw Betsy and heard my story.

Granada, Nicaragua, 4 months later

Saturday, August 1st, 2009
Granada, Nicaragua, 4 months later

Granada, Nicaragua, august 1st 2009

At every border the officials ask the same question, ´how long are you going to stay in our country?´. Most of the time you then get a standard visa for a month. Honduras was exceptional, I only got three days to cross the country, even the maximum stay for the bike is stamped with a special stamp in my passport due to the so called environmental problems (oil on and under my bike, all for a reason to get a bribe). So it was when I entered Nicaragua, when the customs official asked how long, I vividly remember me answering 4 days. Right now I am here for 4 months. Altough I´ve written a lot about my adventures here, I didn´t write a lot about the personal, private things mostly because they are so close and too fresh.

So what makes it so difficult to leave? Going alone on the road again, leaving the known behind, a probably difficult border crossing ahead (Nicaragua-Costa Rica, estimated time to pass through 2,5 to 4 hours)? In the 4 months I´ve been here, I have been very fortunate to experience an almost normal life in a third world country. Had a girlfriend, paid for financial problems, birthday celebrations, hospital visits, mournings, almost daily hassle of power and water interruptions (up to 8 hours in daytime), paid for school obligations, sponsored a girl in school competition, co paid for the hospital entry of the newly born of the police captain, corruption, bureaucracy, and the joys of life such as the many parties ´fiestas´ (the poorer a country the more fiestas?). I could do that by living very cheap. I stayed for a long time on Wayne´s couch but now I stay in a mini house near the old fortress annex church annex cloister San Francisco built by the great ruler Franciso de Cordoba 1524 (he made Granada the capital of whole Central America), cook myself or the family takes care of that. It doesn´t take much to do good in a country where the average monthly wage is about USD 150 and a day´s pay is about USD 2,5 (that´s for 10 hours). But my budget is not endless and my visa expires and can´t be prolonged. It´s time for a new chapter, so I have to turn the page. That´s difficult because so far several people could count on me and that ends for the time being. They are sad by my leaving for several reasons but I have to go. I reckon my budget will carry me two, max three months of travelling further. That all depends on what´s ahead. The answer lies in God, health, budget and my bike Betsy.  So here I am, turn the page for another chapter. Thanks to Bob Seger:

´On a long and lonesome highway, you can listen to the engine moaning out its one lone song, you can think about woman, or the girl you knew the night before. But your thoughts will soon be wandering, the way they always do. Say, here I am, on the road again. There I go, turn the page´.

These days I make my arrangements to go ahead!