Ecuatouring, and friends from home!!

After returning to Panama City from the epic sailing adventure we decided to chill out for a bit and look for yet another sail boat going to Ecuador. After 4 days of sitting around, we met up with our friend Robin who had been training for a cayuco race through the Panama Canal. Cayuco racing started from the indigenous people who created long canoes made from hollowed out trees. These boats (now made of wood and fiberglass) hold 4 people and can be very unstable. Racing these boats have become a competitive sport, with people of shapes and sizes.

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Cayukoing

Robin asked us to help them train as they were 2 people short of a full boat. While practicing close to Veracruz, Panama, we met Ted Henter who has been in the last 15 cayuko races through the Panama Canal. Ted used to be a world renowned road motorcycle racer until he got into a crash in England and became blind in both eyes. Being blind has done anything but slow him down as he has won the world championship for blind waterskiing and is still active as ever. He says that being blind doesn’t make your other senses better per se but it creates more awareness of things that you wouldn’t recognize otherwise.  Ted helped create a software that helps blind people learn different skills. Ted showed us how even the biggest challenges can subside, and how happiness does not have to be seen but can purely be felt, heard, tasted and smelled.

Ted, Shredding some Cayuco!

Ted, Shredding some Cayuco!

We realized that we were sitting ducks, with little luck finding another captain and decided to look into other means of transportation. No boats heading south to Ecuador until May! We did not want to stay any longer in Panama City! Henry’s Grandparents came to the rescue, by allotting us some of their frequent flyer miles, we were able to get two tickets to Quito via aeroplane… As the sustainably south crew thought about other options and were anxious to leave Panama, they decided to push the button and get 2 flights to Quito, Ecuador! Being the sustainably aware team, we wanted to explain the impacts of flying compared to biking. In general riding your bike at a moderate speed burns 472 calories/hour, while driving burns just 148 calories/hour. We calculated our carbon footprint riding bikes 7000km from San Diego to Panama City and found out that we burned 152,000,000 calories along the way. We also calculated our footprint flying from Panama City, Panama into Quito, Ecuador which created around .54 tonnes of carbon emissions. This is a little less than .54 tonnes more than it would have been if we were able to bike through the tumultuous Darien Gap.

Airplane Contrails are NOT good for the environment... bummer

Airplane Contrails are NOT good for the environment… bummer

Living on the itchy, buggy island, we decided to ask Ted and his greatastic wife, Mel if it would be possible to stay at their ocean side adobe abode in Veracruz to get our stuff in order before the 1 hour and 2o minute flight. We stayed here for a few days hanging by the pool and packing our bikes in boxes. We also realized that we couldn’t take our chicken, Cisse’, on the plane with us so we ended up building her a new coop and giving her to the zoni couple Ted and Mel. Thanks guys! Enjoy your new home Cisse’ we’ll miss you!!

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Cisse’s new coop

So we did it, we took an airplane.. Something we were trying to avoid on this trip.. We tried sailing.. we tried.. We had to take our bikes apart and pay around 130$ for them to be placed on the plane as cargo… The lady at the baggage counter didn’t understand and was trying to charge us 500$ but we talked to the manager and everything was cool…

FLYING IN A PLANE!

FLYING IN A PLANE!

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Bikes cruzin thru the x-rayer

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Hen walkin with bikes and bags thru Quito’s new and improved aeropuerto

After getting into Quito we quickly assembled our bikes and decided to bike to Tumbaco, a small town on the outskirts of Quito, where we heard about Casa Ciclista. This is a place where Santiago and his family hosts cyclists from around the world who are doing tours like us. Camping in the back yard free of charge was great! Had a kitchen, bathroom and a cool town to check out. Great to have a place to make homebase but Ike was on a mission to go find his girlfriend Genia who had been hanging on the Ecuadorian coast for the last month and a half. He wanted to make it a surprise so told her he was still waiting for another boat to cruz to Ecuador… again! Arriving at Casa Ciclista, Ike decided he would leave the following morning for the coast where he would try to find Genia who was supposedly staying on a farm called Finca Monoverde.

The first day was made up of city navigating ascending for the first 6 hours of the day. Ike managed to skitch a truck pulling a front end loader, making for quite the interesting train! During the climb Ike was able to stop at La Mitad del Mundo which was where the Equator crosses thru Ecuador. It is here where there is told to be mysterious energy and chilllllll vibezzzzzz.

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La Mitad del Mundo!

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On top of one of the many Andean peaks

The landscapes started changing from concrete and asphalt to mountains and trees, with amazing views of the Andes and the villages buried in between.

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After the never ending uphill climb, Ike finally reached the summit of one of the many peaks and started the 1 1/2 hr downhill ride. Farms built into the elevated highlands, making it look like a patched quilt laid on top the steep mountainous terrain.

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Patchy farmland

 

Coasting down thru the junglesque canyon felt great as the 6 hrs of uphill had finally paid off. The day was dwindling and Ike was getting tired from the Andean ways, so he found a farmer who was scoping his land and asked if he could sleep on his land. The coffee farmer, Luis, was more than happy to host Ike and showed him where to set up camp. Luis had a family in Quito but lived by himself and his dogs in a small shack growing coffee and other crops to get by. He was amazed at Ike’s traveling kitchen and invited him to eat rice and sardines with juice made with fresh naranjillas from his property.

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Luis and his dog sending Ike off!

The next day Ike awoke early with even more motivation to crank than before. Starting uphill it felt great getting an early start. On top of a ridge, the riding began to turn into a slight downhill, passing many cloud forests and foggy rolling hills. After lunch the ups and downs seemed to blur and Ike felt like he was in robot mode, pedaling without thinking about the difficulty of the terrain. Stopping towards the end of the rainy day on the side of the road, Ike noticed an abundance of snails on the road. Never being able to afford escargot, he said what the hell and started collecting the slimy creatures. He asked a few locals what they thought about eating them and they answered with uncertainty and disgust. Not having a clue about these slow strange slugs, Ike decided to stay with the original menu of rice and veggies, like most every night.

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Wet nights

10 hrs on the road, Ike realized he had just pedaled 163 km which was the farthest distance that had been achieved in one day since the tour had begun! Wiped, wet and muddy, Ike stopped to ask if he could stay in a muddy backyard of an old ladies cabana. She told him it was private property and that there was a pueblo 10 km up the street. Not understanding the situation, Ike continued up the hill till he saw an opening in the roadside weeds that opened into a small orchard. Ike cooked dinner and got into his tent as the rain started to pour. Waking up many times in the middle of the night from the puddles lying in his tent, the closeness of the people walking on the road and the overall excitement of what to expect when he surprises his girlfriend.

The next morning Ike woke early to everything soaking wet and snails climbing all over his tent. They seemed to be upset from the dinner joke the day before..

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Snails invading Ike’s tent

Ike packed up and hit the road for Pedernales, which was where the pacific ocean was in site! 2 hrs later (around 11 am), Ike arrived in Tabuga 300 km from Tombuca, on the third day, where he would cross a small creek and open the gate to Finca Monoverde. Stoked to see the reaction on Genia’s face, Ike quietly walked the bike up the farms steep path. At the main house Ike realized that nobody was there! Thinking that everyone went to get lunch or something, Ike posted up and started reading, watching down the hill for someone to arrive. 3 hrs later he decided to take action and ask the neighbors if they had seen anyone at the farm. They said that they may have gone to the beach so Ike put the swimsuit on and ran barefoot thru the forest to the ocean a few miles away. With cut up feet and an excited feeling, Ike got to the beach where he found a family of Ecuadorians hanging out, with the beach to themselves. A little frustrated, Ike jumped into the pacific and ran back into the jungle. A house to the left appeared and he stopped to ask for a glass of water. The family gave him a glass of water and a glass of beer as Ike explained why he was so distraught. They invited him inside for more beer and Ike excepted. 3 beers later he realized he needed to continue the search so thanked the family and ran back to the farm.

Ike saw a man under the house and quickly asked if he knew where his girlfriend might be. Sam, who was watching the farm with his girlfriend Maria told Ike she had left for Mompiche the weekend and took all of her stuff. Not knowing if she would return, Ike quickly thought up a plan. He would pack a small bag, leave the bike at the farm and catch 3 buses to Mompiche before dark. On the third bus he met 3 young traveleres who turned out had met Genia in Canoa a few weeks prior. They had told him that they might know where G might be staying, which stoked the fire for sure. Off the bus, they all checked the hostal that they thought she might be at. Nowhere to be found, Ike roamed the small surfing pueblo along the moon lit streets. In and out of most all the hostals in town, there was one more at the end of the strip. Mudhouse was the last place she could be. Ike asked if a Genia had checked in and the woman at the front replied with a smile “Yea she was just sitting here at the bar!” With a sigh of relief Ike looked towards the back of the open aired hostal and saw G sitting at a table in the back with a few other travelers. Ike walked over as G turned and was totally blind sided! “Are you f#cking serious!” she shouted and the surprise was a success! After 5 1/2 months of virtual skyping, they were stoked to be back together. Stayed a few nights in Mompiche then they went back tot the farm to get Ike’s bike.

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G and Ike at the Finca Monoverde

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Small village outside of Mompiche where the waters are polluted with a orange murky tint as all the houses are stilted above

 

On the other hand, Hen was still staying at the Casa Ciclista. Realizing He didn’t have the same level of psyche that Ike had to pedal to the coast he decided to chill out and see what Quito and the surrounding areas had to offer! Luckily our friend from FoCo, Chelsea had been studying here in Quito for the last 4 months and made for the perfect tour guide!

 

biking around Quito's Centro Historico

biking around Quito’s Centro Historico

 

Chelsea, the beautiful biologist!

Chelsea, the beautiful biologist!

Chelsea is wildlife and conservation biologist who also studied at Colorado State University’s fabled Warner College of Natural Resources. She is completing her final semester here in Ecuador;  doing field work ranging from the high peaks of the Andes, to the Amazon jungles, all the way out to the bio-diverse  islands of the Galapagos! Hen was lucky enough to be shown around Quito by this lovely young lady! From riding bikes on the local trails, and INTENSE ping pong battles, hiking the local hills, to wandering the streets of Centro Historico and the Mariscal; we even tried to go to a Liga de Quito football match but got the kickoff time wrong and ended up missing the game! Oh well, still had a blast !

Hen & Chelsea on the summit of Ilalo, an extinct volcano outside Quito

Hen & Chelsea on the summit of Ilalo, an extinct volcano outside Quito

Very muddy hike!

Very muddy hike!

After hangin around Quito for a week waiting for our good buddy Jack to fly in from Colorado, he finally showed up! Ike had given Jack some directions to Santi’s house and eventually stumbled in! Its cool to have our Colorado homies showing up left and right! Jack had wanted to come on tour with us starting in October, but decided to work a winter season in order to save money! Jack works as a dog sled guide for Good Times in Breckenridge Colorado! He is super psyched to be joining us on tour and will be taking over Ike’s bike and rollin with Hen to Brasil!

Jack the dogsled guide! Enter JAck YEaton!

With Jack and everyone back at the Casa, we all decided to take a trip to Quilotoa while waiting for our Brasil Visas to be processed in Quito! Quilotoa is an indigenous village  high in the Andes (about 4000m high) that is built around a beautiful crater lake which is told to have no bottom. The water has a turquoise tint and the mountains enclose the enormous body of water. We spent 2 1/2 days here where we hiked into the crater and explored the village.

 

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Quilotoa’s crater lake

goin swimmin!

goin swimmin!

Of course we managed to find some cliffs to jump off! The sulfuric water was extremely cold but that didn’t put the team off as we stripped down and plummeted into the bottomless lake!

We stayed with a family for a cool $3 a night where we were able to see how the family lived from day to day. It was nice to hang out in the high alpine tundra and dawn some warm clothes!

Beers and tha Boys

Beers and tha Boys

Being Easter weekend, the trail was packed with people. It seemed like most were from Quito, but also met some people from Peru and Italy. Ike visited Quilotoa 2 years prior and noticed much more infrastructure and marketing to this amazing place.  Ike explained, “2 years ago I think my dad and I saw 2 people walking the trail, now it looks like the Great Wall of China swarming with tourists!”Easter weekend definitely had a large part to do with the immense population of tourists but you could still see how this village has been increasing their tourism market.

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We found many bags of trash next to the lake, which we packed out, but couldn’t understand the reason behind trashing this natural spectacle. Hen interviewed a local guide who managed the mules. They have about 90 horses and mules for tourists to use for trekking around the lake. Being budget travelers we ourselves we were put off by the 10$ price tag for a horse ride. Although if your feeling lazy these push button horses can whisk you away down or up the crater!

BIG mountains in the Andes!

BIG mountains in the Andes!

 

Back in Quito the team splits up! Ike and Genia will be heading towards Brasil on foot, while Jack will take over Ikes bike and head down the Amazon river, the mightiest river on the planet towards the World Cup!

Quito has a big bike scene!

BIKE QUITO! We’ve been stoked to see how many people are psyched on bikes here!

Having bike tour withdrawals, Ike realized that he will be starting a new adventure with Genia as they will become river rats and bus bats to Cuiaba, Brazil for a World Cup game Australia vs. Chile. Ike has traded his bike and panniers to Jack for his backpack so that Jack can bring the bike to Brazil and ride to the games that Hen and him have. Ike has had a great run on the bike for the last 5 1/2 months and wouldn’t have traveled down here any other way. It will be a crazy change of pace riding rivers instead of roads, not worrying about flat tires or semis tickling your shoulder.

 

River Rats, Bus Bats, & and Bicycle Bandits!

See you out there ! ~

– Ike & Hen

 

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Panama pt II

 

After a relaxing week chillin in the mountains of Boquete! It was time to head to the big apple in Panama and look for a boat to South America.. Panama City!! We cruised the 480km from Boquete to Panama’ in style and arrived at the infamous Canal you all have heard about.. Crossing the bridge of americas was interesting. We set up camp on Isla Perico where we lived with a bunch of gypsies for a while waiting to set sail. Naturally we checked out what the city had to offer including the Canal zone, the ghettos of El Chorrillo, Cinco de Mayo, and the old town of Casco Viejo. We found a sailboat, the “Evenstar” which was heading to Ecuador! Perfect. We joined forces with Captain Rick and made plans to head south! Stay tuned for the next installment of Sustainably South as we head out to sea !!

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The epicly amazing, terribly awesome sailing trip

So we left off with us finding a ride to Ecuador! Sweet! Captain Rick told us that we would be leaving wednesday. His boat is a 40′ Ketch named the Evenstar!

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It was Sunday at the time. We spent the days before departure running around doing errands and getting provisions for the sailing voyage south..

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Loading up the Evenstar for the big trip!

We shoulda known things were fishy when port authority told us we needed a Mariners Visa to leave the country by boat since we entered by land from Costa Rica. So we tried a handful of different immigration offices around various marinas and it turns out you can only get a marine visa at the main immigration office in Panama City for a whopping 105$! We even tried taking a bus over to Colon, the Caribbean port to try the immigracion office over there. They wouldn’t give it to us because the boat was on the pacific side not in port over there. What a bummer.. We ended up paying the outrageous fee for our visa so we could leave Panama.

The next hiccup on the departure was that the engines starter wasn’t working so instead of leaving on wednesday we had to wrench the engine for a few days. We finally got everything sorted out by monday and departed for Isla Taboga 5 days behind schedule.

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Cisse hangin out on the poop deck

Taboga is an island about 15 miles from Panama City and makes for a nice anchorage for the evening. We got into an intense barefoot football match with some of the locals which was great exercise since we hadn’t been doing much lately.. It was nice to leave the hectic city life of Panama’ for the the chilled out islander lifestyle. After footy we ate huge plates of chow mein at this delicious chinese food restaurant overlooking the water and then returned to the boat.

The next day we set sail for Las Perlas aka the Pearl Islands. About an 8 hour boat ride from Taboga. the Pearl Islands got their name when pirate Henry Morgan ransacked the islands stealing all the pearls and enslaving the pearl divers for his own personal profit! Here in the Perlas we kicked back super hard enjoying the amazing blue waters of the Pacific.

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Our days were spent spear fishing, snorkeling, and drinking rum. The only downside of the island is that its been tapped by wealthy tourism, and everything was ridiculously expensive. Spearfishing was rad as Ike shot some trigger fish and parrot fish which we then made into ceviche’. mmmmmm delicious.

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Captain Rick takin it eazy

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Parrot fishin

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Trigger fish Ike caught with spear gun

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Rick and the nice Sierra he caught!

One of the days in the Perlas we had a potluck on the beach with all the other sailing vessels. It was pretty neat to meet all kinds of other cruisers. There were some families with young children who were sailing around the world, couples, and single handers. We had a schmorgesborg on the beach! Henry, who has been to a handful of potlucks in his day, believes this one to be the most scenic he’s ever attended.

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Cruiser Potluck on the playa!

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Sailing 180 degrees south!

Sailing was great, bobbing through the endless aquamarine as the only thing in the blue desert that really signifies your position is the sun, rising red in the east, berating down heat all day before it sinks into the sea to the west. We take turns on night watch, holding a steady course south, drinking coffee and reading books. You dont really have to do much except make sure you dont hit other ships. The Ocean is BIG, imagine driving your car in an endless parking lot, and then you might be able to fathom its grandeur.

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Reading is a great way to pass the time..

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more reading…

Sleeping on a ship at sea is quite an experience. When its calm its not too bad but when the ocean gets choppy it can be quite a ride. Plenty of nights were spent in a half state of sleep rocking with the boat, sometimes being thrown to the floor or the wall of the cabin.

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sunset in the perlas…

Then disaster struck. Its not an adventure till something goes wrong right!? About midday on the 2nd day after leaving las perlas, 6th day at sea, Hen noticed the engine was smoking. We opened the compartment to a raging electrical engine fire coming from the starter! We put it out and shut off the engine. “THIS IS NOT GOOD!” exclaimed Captain Rick. No more motor. We checked our position and realized we could probably sail west back towards Panama for repairs. Even though we were closer to land on the eastern side, we would hit the Darien, a wild an uninhabited land. So we spent the day sailing and chillin on the boat, enjoying the sea. Hen had the early watch 18:00 to 22:00 and he was holding the boat steady on course at about 5.5 knots heading west. He went to sleep and left the watch to Ike and Captain Rick. We got sucked into some gnarly east west currents that were pushing us out to sea. After Ike’s watch he went to take a short nap. The next morning we realized that we had been blown off course! The northerly winds blowing us south and the east west current taking us further out to sea! NOT GOOD NOT GOOD!

So we tried to start the motor as if giving her the night off might have fixed her.. The motor didn’t turn over and then there was another fire. The batteries caught fire and fried most all of them. At this time Ike awoke from dream world walked into the main cabin to a worried look on the captain and Hen’s face. He asked what the problem was and captain said, “were lost, with no engine and no electrical.” Ike said, “What the hell happened during my nap!” Toxic smoke filled the cabin as we opened the engine compartment which at this time was FILLING WITH WATER!! Rick grabbed bolt cutters and chopped the battery cable to kill the surges running to the batteries hoping they wouldn’t explode! Time to hit the OH SHIT button! No motor, no electricity, and water in the bilge. Not good! Not good at all ladies and gentlemen.

We were scrambling to pack one bag of items to take with us, while the cabin was billowing smoke. Fear coursing through our veins as we had make critical decisions of what we wanted to salvage from this mess. Hen grabbed his computer and some clothes, Ike grabbed his waterproof pack with his sleeping bag, some clothes, camera and his crappy smelly tent buried in the bottom of the bag that should have probably been burned before the trip… Also packed up the chicken of course. Anyways it was a crazy feeling trying to pack one single bag out of the 5 bags we had. Trying to weed out the things that weren’t as important to us.

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Grab bags loaded with emergency rations

Trying not to inhale the noxious fumes billowing from the cabin and grab the essentials was quite scary. Ike and Hen handpumped water from the bilge into the sink while the captain was calling mayday emergency on the handheld radio! The handheld only had a range of about 10 miles so we were proper f#cked!

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Cabin in shambles after getting into emergency mode

After packing up we tried dropping the dingy (our smaller boat with a motor located in the back of the sailboat) into the water but the lines were twisted. Quickly, the captain grabbed a knife and cut the lines letting the dingy drop into the water with another line holding it to the sailing vessel.

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the dink!

Once the water that was coming into the bilge stabilized and the smoke had cleared, it was apparent that we weren’t going to be sinking just quite yet so we sat down to think things through. We had set off our emergency beacon which sends a GPS coordinates to the US Coast Guard, so someone out there knew where we were.

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Water in the bilge/engine.. (fire may have melted one of the water lines)

Then Ike had an idea, would it be possible to hotwire the CV radio with the batteries? Rick climbed into the compartment where the batteries were. Luckily there were 2 6v batteries that didm’t get fried! The two in the very back managed not to get fried and Captain Rick hotwired the CV radio back online. He managed to get ahold of his buddies in the South West Caribbean net on a frequency who then got in touch with the Coast Guard. It was extremely nice to have someone on the outside working to help us.

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Hotwiring batteries to radio

Captain Rick had shut all the valves which we think had stopped the water coming into the boat or something like that. Then we spent time just hangin out on the boat waiting for a rescue of some sort to materialize. As we were waiting, we saw the dinghy floating away!! WHAT THE FUCK!!!?? Our bikes were in the dinghy and a 20 litre jug of water we threw in there incase we had to spend significant time in the life raft! The current had taken the dingy about 200 ft away as we were trying to figure out how to get it back! We were going to use the kayak the rescue the dingy when we realized that the paddle had been washed into the sea in the rocking waves! Ike and Hen were getting ready to dive in after it when they realized it probably wasn’t worth risking swimming after it, not knowing the strength of the current. Luckily the captain had enough wind to turn the sailboat around and get close to the dingy. When we got close enough Ike jumped onto the raft from the sailboat, as his arms wrapped the inside and feet flew into the water he managed to get inside and start the motor up, saving the dingy, our drinking water and the bikes. Upon inspection the metal ring on the front of the dinghy that the rope was tied to just snapped off!! A bad day at sea just getting worse..

Captain Rick had a big decision to make. He had lived on this sailboat for the last 7 years sailing around the Pacific and Caribbean. Would he stay with the ship and try to sail her back to land so he could salvage all his personal belongings? Or would he have to abandon the ship leaving her at the mercy of the sea?? Big decisions.. He wanted his crew (Ike, Henry, and the Chicken) to be safe and sound first. Taking a look at the charts regarding winds and currents it showed that the path we were on we wouldnt be able to make land until Acapulco Mexico! We trying to go SOUTH not back north! At least if we sailed to Acapulco we could try to jump the cliffs again.. Captain Rick  didn’t think he had the mental, or physical strength to undertake such a voyage. No navigation, no power, no electrical, and to top things off our main sail that we had out to help stabilize the boat had just ripped from getting flapped in the wind for the last couple hours..

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Torn main sail

Panama Map diagram

Diagram of our route. Headed south east towards Las Perlas, Then south directly to Ecuador. Engine fire off the coast of the Darien and Colombia. Sailed West towards Punta Mala, got caught in major currents and northerly winds blowing us out to sea.

Also to repair the engine and electrical damage done to the boat was going to cost upwards of $25,000. Money that the captain doesnt have…. So Rick made the decision that he was going to abandon ship with us. A life changing decision for sure….

The Coast Guard informed us that they didn’t have any assets in the area and that the Panamanian navy didn’t have any boats that could reach this far out and back. We were about 250 miles from Panama City and 50 miles off the coast of Punta Mala (the bad point) which was named for a reason. An aeronaval airplane flew over us and circled around before heading in. Awesome! Someone knew where we were in the endless aquamarine!  The Coast Guard had sent a request to merchant vessels in the area that we were requesting rescue! There were two ships searching for us now and that was good news for once!

We spent the afternoon just shooting the shit relaxing on the boat now. The panic from the morning had subsided and we were just having fun enjoying the last hours with the Evenstar. Captain Rick told us he had a sawed off shotgun to defend against pirates and we could shoot it. It was great fun shooting a sawed off, which by the way is an illegal weapon. Its illegal because by sawing off the barrel you turn a big weapon into a concealable and very power smaller weapon. Irregardless it was a blast shooting rounds into the sea, feeling like a pirate.

Around sunset we spotted the merchant vessel that was coming to rescue! Henry got to shoot off a flare, something he had been wanting to since since he was a youth. We got into radio contact with the captain of the Glenda Meryl, a Oil Tanker from India. We were hoping to get rescued before dark but as the sun set west it was apparent that this would be a night rescue!

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The Glenda Meryl Indian Oil Tanker

The indians set out their rescue boat and got our ship tied to theirs. While this was happening another hose burst in the engine compartment expediting the sinking process! A bad day at sea getting worse.. Ike used the dinghy to shuttle all of our stuff into the rescue craft. This was all happening in pretty choppy seas under the cover of darkness! Once all of our stuff was in the rescue craft, Ike returned to pick up Rick, Hen, and the bicycles.

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Hen reassembling bike before getting on rescue boat

Before we left the Evenstar, Captain Rick cut the hoses and opened the valves effectively “scuttling” (sinking) the ship; sealing its fate to the watery depths below. This ended a 7 year love affair with his beloved Evenstar. He pulled the ships bell off the wall, because you never leave the ships bell. Sad moments. Hen took one last look as water was now flooding the cabin. No time to sit in revelry on a sinking ship. We hopped in the dinghy and jumped into the rescue ride.

It was bouncy in the rescue boat and the Indians who came to save us were not accustomed to the bouncing of a small vessel they were puking over the side, leaving most of the rescuing up to Hen and Ike! Hen told them that we needed to cut the rope that tied us to the sailboat because it was sinking! The indians didnt know which rope it was as there was two and they told Heinrich to do it! Hen jumped into the dinghy once more and took a knife between his teeth like a pirate and headed out into the darkness in search of the line. He found it and started sawing away with adrenaline coursing through his veins! This was one of those big hemp ropes about two inches in diameter that takes a few minutes to saw through. The indian who gave Hen the knife said not to drop it! Henry had a death grip on that shank and managed to get the rope sliced and back into the life boat! The indians on the oil tanker later told us that they had seen sharks swimming around the boats with their search lights during the rescue, adding epicness to the story.

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Inside the rescue boat! Bikes and All!

As we approached the oil tanker, we were being slammed into the hull of the ship. Very dangerous work lie ahead to get the rigging for the pulleys to hoist us onto the big ship. The indians were screaming in Hindu and  were trying to converse with us in broken english! The sea was swelling one to two meters as the rigging was trying to be shackled on the the rescue boat. The indians were working hard in the bobbing sea as Ike had taken over from the sick Indians to use a gaff to push the lifeboat away from the ship! On the other end of the joust like gaff was a metal hook. While jabbing the ship, Ike had to keep looking back not to stab this hook into one of the indians throwing up on the other side! Every time we slammed into the hull it shook up the whole lifeboat! Hoping it wouldnt break in two we held our breaths as the riggers finally had the boat secure and we were hoisted out of the sea! Only to be dropped back in as the rigging wasn’t done correctly!! Once more we had to fight the swell keeping a healthy distance between us and the big rig! Eventually in what seemed like the longest minutes of our lives we were finally correctly rigged and hoisted once more out of the water! We were still being banged into the hull on the way up and now it was even worse! Each smash was like thunder shaking the whole life boat! Hen grabbed a helmet and put it on! Being hoisted onto the boat felt like one of those rollercoaster rides. We were finally rescued from the sea and on the oil tanker!!

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On the tanker! Feeling torqued!

The indians greeted us with juice and water and had a nice cabin for us to stay in! We were all so adrenalized it was insane! Of all the crazy extreme sports we have done from rock climbing to mountain biking, to cliff jumping; we had never felt adrenaline like this. It was coursing through our veins, our whole bodies buzzing with it. Pupils dilated and everything. We sat with Captain Rick in the mess room smoking cigarettes just trying to calm down. The indians fed us delicious curry for dinner and we retired to our very nice cabin for the night finally to chill out.

We even had our chicken spend the night perched on the toilet.

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Potty training Cisse’

The next day we awoke about 4 hours from Panama City where we would get dropped off! All the Indians were psyched on us that we were going to Brasil for the World Cup! Everyone wanted to take pictures of us! One of the Indian crew told us that he had done a 1200km bicycle tour in India, and that we should visit him in New Delhi! Cool, now we have to go travel in India one day!

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Pictures with the crew

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Rescue boat

The Panamanian aeronaval came and picked us up in their cutter and returned us to the Navy base. It was here we were met by an agent from the US Embassy who was there to help us out in any way we needed. We explained that we saved all of our possessions and just needed to go to the marina to search for another ride to Ecuador..

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Delivering bikes to the cutter

Back in Panama City we have been trying to worm our way onto yet another sailboat. Trying to get to Ecuador as Ike’s girlfriend, Genia, has been there for a month now and was planning on meeting up with us upon our arrival. Below is the link to the article that the Navy wrote about the rescue mission.

http://www.aeronaval.gob.pa/NOTICIAS2014/FEBRERO/SENANAUXILIAANAUFRAGOS-G.html

 

Unfortunately, the environmental effects of sinking a yacht into the ocean is detrimental. Hundreds of gallons of fuel will spill out of the boat, not to mention all the other stuff that will float around for eternity till it bunches up in the giant floating garbage patch in the Pacific. For all our good work traveling in sustainable fashion by bicycle, and avoiding using aeroplanes and busses whenever possible; we felt that sailing would be a great way to continue our voyage in this style. We never imagined we would have to abandon ship at sea. We would like to apologize to everyone, the ocean, and mother nature for this failure.

On the otherhand, we are extremely excited to be safe and sound back on dry land with all of our personal belongings. We would like to thank Captain Rick for his wisdom, generosity, and friendship. Also we would like to thank everyone who helped contribute to our rescue. Mike from the Caribbean, The USCG, the Panama Aeronaval, and the Captain and crew from the Glenda Meryl!

Safe sailing friends!

Ike&Hen

Boquete to Panama City !

We left off after our adventures in Boquete. With only a few more days in the quaint mountain town we were able to visit a couple of farms that we found on a day bike ride up into the hills.

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Boquete Panama

We first found a tomato farm that wasnt very stoked on us checking out the farm.

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Tomato Farmers

We talked to them a bit, took some fresh tomatoes and stumbled upon a huge greenhouse operation. Not knowing what was inside we decided to enter the saw tooth entity. Inside turned out to be a industrial sized hydroponic operation growing many types of lettuce.

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Hydroponic Lettuce Farm

We met one of the workers who gave us a short tour and also showed us their pet toucans!

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What kind of Goo can stick you to a toucan? – Glue can

How many people can ride a toucan? – Two can

Who is the only person who can ride a toucan? – Lou can

Who can write more jokes about a toucan? YOU CAN!

After a handful of chill days in the mountains it was nice to get back in the saddle and head to our final destination in Panama and respectively, Centro America! What goes up must come down; this is a very true saying as  we had climbed into the beautiful town in the mountains the week prior, it was time to descend and be on our way.

After about 50km of fun flowing downhill it was time to pedal again. Panama is pretty hilly as we had come to find out along the PanAm, but it was nothing near as bad as El Diablo (the continental divide). On the way down we saw many small and Xtra small farms…

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Small & XtraSmall Farms

At the end of the day on day 2 after leaving Boquete Hen’s rear quick release snapped rendering his bike useless. (The quick release is what holds the wheel on) Ike asked some locals if we could camp at there house and they were psyched! They had pigs cats dogs and chickens in their yard for Cisse to play with! We set up camp and found a pathway down to the big river we had just crossed prior to the bike malfunctions and took a great river bath!

The next day unfortunately started by us having to take a bus to the town of Santiago! Santiago is about halfway between David and Panama City! Once in Santiago Hen borrowed Ike’s bike and searched for a bike shop to obtain a new quick release. Having searched up and down the strip the only bike shop he found was closed. Hen started talking to some people in a car shop who pointed him towards this other guy who he followed down this side street to a house where a guy was fixing a generator and polishing chairs. They spoke for about 10 minutes about the generator while Hen was hangin out in a rocking chair waiting. When it was time Hen talked to the dude and followed him into the house. He disappeared under the stairs and came out with a box of bike parts. It was here that Heinrich selected his new quick release. The man explained to him that this was a much stronger one than the one that broke and could take me all the way to Argentina and back! Psyched Hen pedaled back to the bus station where Ike and the chicken were chillin. Hen replaced the quick release and it was back on the road!

We pedaled the rest of that day and camped out in an awesome farmland. Bathing in the irrigation water was a bit sketchy but we did it anyway!

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Camped out on a rice farm

About 100 km from the City we were in sight of the Ocean. For our lunch break we headed to the Pacifico Ocean for some swimming and fun in the sun! This was our first time back on the Pacific since Mexico! We were greeted by beautiful blue waters and white sands!

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Lunch at the beach

Rollin into Panama City was insane! Crossing the bridge of the Americas over the Panama Canal was quite the adventure! Instead of cycling in the crazy traffic lanes we took the service sidewalk. This was a good choice because we were away from all the traffic, on the other hand it was the service lane so there was generators and ladders in the way. We would have to squeeze around them while cars and busses blast by in the oncoming lane at 100kph! On your left hand side was about 400 ft of dizzying exposure down to the Panama Canal. Theres a fence between you and the edge but its still a pretty awesome feeling!

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View of Panama City from Isla Perico

After gnarviating the crazy traffic, we pedaled out to the Amador Causeway! This a sweet little causeway that leads you to Isla Perico. We pulled into the shoppette to use the internet and struck up some conversations with some gypsy pirates.

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Acroyogabats !

They showed us a place where we could camp on the island! The Amador Bike Park! We set up camp here for a few days! It was a perfect location for us because we love to camp and our chicken could roam free and hang with the gypsies.

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Ike & Cisse’

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Gypsies camp

Living with the gypsy gang, we learned about their “project” which was designed as a sailing community that would put on circus shows on their journey. Everyone had their own job;  collecting and drying food to collecting supplies to fixing their sail boat.

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Gypsies food drying station

While waiting for a boat, we decided to check out what Panama City had to offer!  Which included The canal! The old town, the ghettos, the very very American Mall, and some good old fashion partying!

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Oil Rig passing through the canal at the Miraflores locks

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Having outrageous fun at the locks!

During our tour we found this crazy tree that was hundreds of years old and of course, had to climb it.

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Gangsta Gansta in Casco Viejo

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Ike trying on some fresh boots at the Puma store at Allbrook mall!

Back at the shoppette we also met some sailors. Ken and Gael who had been sailing around the world for the last 15 years told us they knew of a guys sailing to Ecuador. Our new friends made some phone calls and Rick showed up and introduced ourselves. He said yup he was going to Ecuador and that we could come with him! Headed to Ecuador more on that later!

a man a plan a canal panama- spell that one backwards!

-Ike & Hen

From la Isla Ometepe, through Costa Rica to Panama and everywhere in between

Its been a while! Lots of craziness since we got off Volcan Telica in Leon Nicaragua. We ran into Tommy and Bradie and gave them the beta for the volcan hike! After relaxing for an afternoon we packed up from Hostel Albergue (highly recommended) and hit the road towards Rivas. We smashed over a hundred km into some windy conditions near the shores of Lake Managua. We took lunch and went swimming in the lake it was awesome!

Toña and Bananas. Nicaragua lifestyle

Toña and Bananas. Nicaragua lifestyle

We decided to bypass the capital city of Managua and go into the mountains around it. Towards the end of the day it was very hilly. We skitched on the back of a dumptruck up the big hills and ended up in the town of El Crucero right on the ridge of the mountains. Beautiful views from both sides of the ridge as it wound gently downhill. With minimal light and no where to spend the night we asked the policia if we could camp in the back of their station. They informed us that it wasn’t a campground. We told them we weren’t looking for a campground but a place to lay down for the evening. It was completely dark and we don’t cycle at night so they finally let us stay. Under one condition, we had to leave at 5am! We didnt even set up tents which was a mistake. It was very windy and clouds were drizzling over us as they pass over the mountain. Irregardless we were on bikes at 5am. Jackets and lights on we descended into the darkness hoping for the arrival of the sun. Once it got light out it was much warmer. We smashed 80km by noon and made it to Rivas where we could take a boat to the island!

Sunset view from the mountains. Pacific ocean barely visible

Sunset view from the mountains. Pacific ocean barely visible

We took the ferry from San Jorge to the island of Ometepe located in the middle of Lake Nicaragua. This fresh water surrounded land mass was an amazingly lush oasis. With 2 volcanoes looking over the island, it was easy to navigate as the two points acted as reference cairns while riding around the green farm country.

View of Ometepe from the boat

View of Ometepe from the boat

Permaculture farms were abundant on the island so we were excited to check out the farming techniques practiced here. Traveling down the concrete brick road felt like a wide bike path with few vehicles and locals biking all around. Seeking a farm to help out on and stay at, we ran into Salvador who was a Nicaraguan that moved to Ometepe a year prior with his Volkswagon bus and was living on this small farm on the lake. He told us we could stay there so we followed him down a sandy washed out road till we found Finca Samaria. Locally owned and operated, Samaria was a nice hideaway on the lake covered in fruit trees with a beach bar and everything!

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Samaria garden

We made a deal that we would work the following morning for a free night stay at the farm. The work consisted of collecting trash and washed up sticks on the beach and raking the property in front of the garden, which felt great to help out a bit! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were many great permaculture ideas that we were able to practice at this farm along with the other farms on the island. Compost toilets turned out to be more common than hot water!

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Compost toilet at Samaria

Next day we cycled to the other side of the island where we ended up at a larger scale permaculture farm and hostel buried in the island forest called Zopilote. The tranquilo environment was great, but was not meant for cycle tourists as the path to the hostel was not ideal for bikes.

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Zopilote bus with a green roof!

After realizing that we couldn’t volunteer and that the hostel wasn’t really biker friendly we packed up and traveled further down the road till we reached the newly developed permaculture farm, Jardin de la Vida. The owners, Rachel and Trevor, have been restoring this small  lake view permaculture farm ever since they bought it less than a year ago.  Before they owned the land, a local family used many poor techniques to tend the land so it was interesting to see what solutions were being put into effect. We were looking to do some work, which was perfect as they were building an outdoor cob kitchen next to their cob oven.

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Burning out a root next to the newly built cob oven and the location of the cob kitchen.

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Working on the cob kitchen

Camping at the farm was great, meeting people from all over the world who also were interested in farming and similar topics like us. The farm had a cabana made of bamboo, 2 herb spirals, and a garden with shaded sections for the more sensitive plants.

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Bamboo chill zone

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Covered basil plants being protected by the wind and sun

Nearing the end of our stay we heard that the farm had too much going on and wanted to give one of their chickens to the bike crew! We had been thinking about having a team mascot for quite some time and felt like this was a perfect opportunity. That night  Ike built a cage out of reused chicken wire, reused plastic, twine, live tree shoots, and palm leaves.

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Making the structure for the chicken casita

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Finished travel chicken coop with bike mount

The next day we strapped the newly constructed cage to the back of the bike and left the farm with our new friend Cisse. Cisse is over a year old and was not producing eggs, which was another reason why she was being gifted to us.

Cisse getting ready for her big journey!

Leaving the island of Ometepe was bittersweet as the amazingly lush farm land and the freshwater lake surrounding was quite a site to see. Definitely a place worth looking more into for the Sustainably South Crew. To leave the island we had to take a 10 hour ferry to San Carlos, then another smaller boat down Rio Frio to the Costa Rican border. The ferry was a trip in itself as we first had to sneak the chicken on, then wait for all the bananas to be loaded up, which Ike enjoyed helping with.

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Packing bananas onto the ferry

Getting to the port,  Hen managed to distract the man in charge as Ike cruzed behind with the chick. Once on the river lancha (smaller boat), we motored down the calm jungly river to Costa Rica.

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Lancha ride with Cisse hiding under our seats!

Finally in Costa Rica, we kept hearing the worst word on bike tour, EXPENSIVE. Everything we bought was double the price in Cost Rica for some unknown reason. The land was definitely cleaner than other countries we had passed thru, so hopefully the extreme markups were helping to clean and conserve the land. We decided to head thru the north eastern, carribean side of Costa Rica and to skip out on the capitol, San Jose, which turnd out to be a great choice!

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Henry taking a tractor skitch thru countryside

The first night in Costa Rica we stopped at an inviting house where the senora in charge agreed to let us stay under her citrus tree in the back.

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Harvested platanos, basil, spicy peppers, star fruit, oranges, mandarines and limons from around our backyard campsite.

The following morning we packed up from under the citrus tree and were about to leave when the family asked if we wanted one of their baby chicks to join Cisse on tour! We denied the chicklet as we had enough on our plate (not literally) with the one chicken.

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Cisse McChillin

Being on bike tour, it can be hard to stay healthy as we are always breaking open the first aid kit as new problems always arise. After staying with the nice family from the previous night we realized we needed more anti-biotics for our trip. Later that day we were cycling thru the pineapple infested landscapes when we saw a road cyclist, Jimmy, pedaling in the opposite direction. He caught up with us about an hour later and started telling us about how he was a pharmacist in the town of Pital which was about 15 km from where we were. We told Jimmy we were looking for more medicine and also were looking for a place to sleep for the night. He told us he wanted to give us the medicine as a gift and invited us to stay at his families house in Pital. His wife Deimy cooked us dinner, breakfast and even packed us a lunch for on the road the next day! What amazing hospitality Jimmy and his family had given us!

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Jimmy the cycle pharmacist who let us stay at his house

Jimmy escorted us out of Pital and we were again en route for the Carribean coast! We rode thru tall tree canopies where we could hear the howler monkeys howling as well as many different species of birds throughout the forested area. The overcast days made riding much more enjoyable and allowed us to stay on our bikes during the hottest time of the day. Crossing many large rivers we came to a police station where we asked for advise on where to sleep for the night before we made the push to Limon in the morning. After one of them walked us across the bridge we decided to take a dirt road to get off the busy highway. Starting to rain, we saw a greenhouse that looked like it might be nice to camp under. The family said we could camp there for the night and invited us in for an amazing dinner. They even fed Cisse and gave us extra food for the her journey! There were more chickens and other birds here where Cisse made friends with their female peacock.

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Hangin under the greenhouse with the birds

The next day we hit the Guápiles Highway which is the extremely congested highway that connects Costa Rica’s capitol city, San José to Limón, Costa Rica’s biggest caribbean port. There were semis passing us left and right as we were breathing the smoky exhaust from the huge trucks. A common theme of latin america has been the ridiculous amount of pollution produced from many of the vehicles as emissions testing does not exist down here. We managed to send the highway to Limon! Costa Rica’s biggest Caribbean port. Once we got past Limon we headed south down the tranquillo caribbean costal road! After 4 months of travel; two of them being on the Pacific the other two inland in Centro America, we finally made it to the majestic Caribbean Sea! Pretty exhausted from the 110km push that day we stopped at a chill looking bar to get some water and we got sucked into the “beer trap.” This is when you get offered just “one” beer and end up leaving with quite the buzz. It all started when we let our chicken out. The locals where so surprised and excited on our trip that they were giving us some sort of Costa Rican liquor and taking pictures with us and our chicken! It was here where we met Merlin aka El Mago (the magician) who was a Costa Rican fellow living near to the bar and invited us to stay at his humble abode. El Mago worked in the cruise business and was building a bar close to his house. He gifted us home grown habaneros, honey and coconut oil that his family made.

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Our friends the Magician (El Mago) and Sofia at the roadside bar

Life is slow on the caribe. Rastas sit lazily smokin spliffs under palm trees as the waves crash down on the beaches. Speakin of lazy, we found this sloth sanctuary on the side of the road and decided to stop and check these sluggish creatures out. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We swiftly walked around the reception and, being recreation and touring professionals, took our own tour. The sanctuary rehabilitated sloths and had a high canopied forest to walk thru. We only saw one sloth here which was in a small cage. We found this ironic when there was a huge jungle environment right next to the porched cage. There were many informative signs on this jungle path about the different plants in the forest including this sign on banana trees. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It explains how bananas are parthenocarpic (without pollination) herbaceous plants and since the fruit lacks seeds, pollination is achieved vegatively by planting suckers with part of the corm (bulb). So if you are trying to plant bananas, you will need to start with a bulb as seeds are non existent.

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Found this interesting as we try to eat at least 4 bananas a day while riding!

Made it to Puerto Viejo for the carribean swells and stayed at a super relaxed hostel called La Ruka. At first they told us that camping was not allowed on the property, then they saw our bikes and our chicken and quickly changed their minds! We set up camp in the back and enjoyed a couple of days on the beach. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Cisse relaxing in the hammock at the hostel

One of the days Ike took a trip into the Cahuita jungle with some new friends Trina, Kai, Peter and Thor.

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Jungle friends!

Trina and Ike biked 15 km to the jungle path where they stopped for some all natural, straight off the tree cocos. When traveling anywhere around this temperate climate, we have learned to always carry a coco knife with us. There is nothing more refreshing than a fresh coconut hiding under those flattened palm leaves. Trina and Ike took a dunk into the carribe while waiting for the others to arrive from the bus.  We saw lots of wildlife including howler monkeys, white-headed capuchin monkeys, sloths, a yellow eyelashed viper, crazy insects and raccoons that looked much healthier than the city coons that were used to back home.

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Banana spider webbin awound

Hen cruzed to the beach with some german chicks and enjoyed some wave watchin under the coco trees. Hen and ze germans cruised on bikes about 12km to playa manzanillo. This beach was super chill with great blue waters of the Caribbean the perfect temp for swimming. Swimming, biking, and chicas (some of my favorite pastimes) what a great way to spend the afternoon! He helped some beautiful spanish girls open a coco nuts with the machete. Machetes are pretty useful tools used by almost everyone in latin america. After months of slaying cocos our skillz have been honed and Hen whipped up a batch of cocos for the bodacious babes from Basque Country. Later on at the beach the spanish chicks went swimming topless! Ah nothing more beautiful than the human body as my mom always says! Babes and Machetes ooooollalalalaaa =)

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Beached jellyfish in Puerto Viejo

Puerto Viejo was great for the time we spent. We felt like we met some really amazing people and had some great experiences here, but had to keep on keeping on.  Saying goodbyes seemed to take all morning although we were only here for 3 days. Crazy how close and comfortable you can become in such a short amount of time! We knew the next few days were going to be epic, but had no idea the pass was going to be so intense and steep. The 4 days and 244 km thru the mountainous jungle, called El Diablo (The Devil), was filled with switchbacks on the winding 2 lane road. The last night we camped close to the top of the pass in the jungle. When we found a spot we were completely spent and quickly put up our tents as the rain was starting to pour. Got into the tents just in time, Cisse and all!

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Ike making dinner in his sleeping sack, with Cisse assissting as the rain drenches the bikes outside!

Having Cisse on tour, we have noticed how many of the travelers that we have been aquatinted with have little to no experience with chickens. We have been able to teach people about Cisse, with most all the travelers holding and petting the animal for the first time in their lives. We find it funny that most of these people eat this animal regularly, yet have never had the chance or been interested in learning about where it comes from or even realizing how strange chickens really are. We feel like they are unevolved dinosaurs sometimes eating anything in site and making sounds that are unrepeatable. Cisse has been not only a great travel friend but a piece of education to help teach people that the food that they eat does NOT just come from the grocery store, but is actually raised and takes a lot of work to make it to their dinner plate every night.

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Hen and the hen studying route thru the jungle during a quick break!

Going over the mountains was amazing with many small farms and cabanas atop hills looking as if they were tree forts.

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Personal small scale sawtooth shaped greenhouse

Finally arriving into Boquette the landscape changed completely from mountain jungle to wide open tree forests. Dry grasses and mango trees covered the road side with Volcan Baru seen from the town. The town was surrounded by mountains, hidden in a valley of cool rock formations and rivers. Hen had lived here as a greenhorn backpacker in 2008 taking spanish classes and enjoying the bountiful recreation opportunities that the valley has to offer. We have been staying at Hostel Mamallena which is owned by Hen’s old friend Miguel! He was been very inviting hooking us up with a spot to camp in the back yard!

wrenchin bikes! So psyched for a bike stand!

wrenchin bikes at the hostel! So psyched for a bike stand!

We visited Henrys buddy and local climber Cesar, who hooked us up with some climbing gear. We quickly hitchiked up to the crag (Crag (n) -A rock formation where rock climbing happens) and got on the rock. Rock climbing is one of our great passions. Opportunities to go climbing on this trip have been slim so it felt great to go cragging. We brought Cisse to the crag and she was a super chill crag chicken.

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Ike leading the Vertical Garden route in Boquette

The next day we went and checked out these super sick waterfalls with plentiful opportunities for cliff jumping. Being cliff jumping experts we were so psyched to get to check out this wonderful location. We piled in the hostel van with a bunch of german babes and some other homies from the hostel and drove to this secret location. A short hike earns you a secluded waterfall with a perfect swimming hole.

Super secret waterfall

Super secret waterfall

Jacques and Dylan who work at the hostel were also psyched on jumping. We were all feeding off each others primal energy as we were pushing our aerial skills to new heights. Trying double front flips and crazy aerial maneuvers as the chicas cheered us on!

The ladies LOVE it!

The ladies LOVE it!

Of course we brought our chicken and she was lovin it at the swimmin hole. She even got to ride in a hollowed out watermelon across the pool!

#travelingchicken

#travelingchicken

After chillin for a few more days up in the clouds of Boquete, we’ll make the push to Panama City! We will go to Casco Viejo which is the old town of Panama where we will search for a boat ride from Panama to Buenaventura, Colombia on the Pacific coast! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Without teamwork there would be nothing shared, nothing learned and would be nearly impossible to manage. Especially in this scenario!

-Hen & Ike