Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Adv #7 Goes nautical. This is pretty cool....

Okay, this is a rare posting. Live, up to the minute news as I sit here in a hotel room overlooking the Panama Canal. Still haven't posted all the stuff that happened since we've been in the country of Panama, but that can wait. This is good stuff.

Peter's been talking with some of his contacts the past couple of weeks now, trying to get us a good deal on shipping the bikes to Chile. Pricing, scheduling, looking at different ideas, we finally got it boiled down to this plan: This afternoon, we parked our bikes on the pier in Colon, Panama next to the Hamburg-Sud container vessel "Cap Blanche." Tomorrow morning, a crane will help us pick our bikes up onto the deck of this steamship, and Peter and I will board the ship and ride along as passengers for 10 days to Valpraiso, Chile! Let's just say, Peter's "contacts" are not only exceptional, but very, very generous as well.

To most folks, this might not sound like a big deal. But having been in the transportation business myself for 8+ years and having talked around about what we're doing, lets just say we know this is an extremely rare opportunity we get to enjoy. We'll board the ship at about 9am tomorrow, and then start to go through all 3 locks in the Panama Canal starting 2am on Friday morning. What a way to see and learn about such a famous shipping point in this world!

Now I know, Valpraiso/Santiago, Chile is a long way from Central America. Some folks might tease me for skipping so much of this ride (Columbia, Ecuador, Peru) for now, but there are many reasons for doing so. First, riding on the steamship like this is an opportunity I'd be crazy to pass up on (unless I'm about to be seasick for 10 days, then I am the idiot.) Second, we took much longer than anticpated to get to this point, and my ideas of working in Chile/Argentina for a while revolve around being there in early February. (It would take a whole month or so to ship from here and ride through Columbia/Ecuador/Peru.) Lastly, those 3 countries I'm skipping right now will still be there in 10 months, so I can go see them then! Besides, I'll have to wait at this point to finish the ride to the southern-most point of Ushuaia because it starts snowing there in about 5 weeks and it's not likely that I could make it that far before then anyway. So maybe after working in Chile/Argentina through their winter season, I finish the ride to Ushuaia, grab my "End of the World" sticker, and then make it up through the countries I missed. Sound good? Okay. That's just what I'm thinking for now.

Anyway, it's time for bed, as we just got through our 2nd consecutive 9+ hour day of chasing paperwork around Panamanian government buildings. (That's right, it took us over 18 total hours of waiting, copying, printing, walking, and talking to get two motorcycles cleared to leave the country. Unreal!)
As a side note though, I simply could not do this steamship ride without the generosity of my parents and some good friends and tenants back in Atlanta. While I'm on this steamship, Paul and Kelly will be moving out of my house, and Jim and Sheri, the new tenants will move in. I feel ridiculous not being there for this process, but reasons of cost and a potentially lost opportunity have led me to ask everyone to handle this without me flying back to Atlanta. My parents are driving to Atlanta to help empty my house and go through the move-in/move-out with everyone next week. Also offering to help are many friends and neighbors like Marcus, Tim, Emily, Bruce, Sven, and a few other folks on "stand-by." Even the extreme generosity and flexibility of Paul and Kelly should be noted. (Thank you both for making such accomodations!) What a weird case of mixed emotions in that......I want to keep travelling like this and having all these fun experiences, but I also really miss being around such good people that I can count on. Real friends and family in my already great life.

More news when I can....

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