Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Turn and Burn for Panama, Part 3

December 10:

I decided to sleep in today and take it easy as I was expecting good roads (thanks for the heads up Jdowns) and no border crossings. I took my time getting ready and spent some time hanging out with Ed Zachtamundo's friend, Orley, the pet monkey:

I think my friend Jeff (Mathews) was right, this little devil was a trained thief! Look at him trying to get my sick Suunto watch! Actually, he was trying to eat it and he kept biting it. I started to get worried that he might miss and bite me and give me the outbreak virus (which would probably happen with my luck), so we parted ways.

I got back on the road and was soon on a four lane divided highway. The riding was fast, uneventful, and actually quite boring. After spending the last few months fighting for my life everyday on the road, getting on something that was very similar to an American Freeway is almost kind of a let down.

Still, it's kind of nice not having to worry about coming round a corner and crashing into a herd of cows (possible in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua), or running over an open man hole cover (happened in Mexico, barely avoided in Nicaragua), or finding that an entire lane of the road has collapsed and is only marked out by painted white rocks (Honduras). This pic from Honduras pretty much sums it up:

I stopped after about 60 miles and found that my oil was a quite low, almost halfway down the dipstick. Riding hard on the old XRL really takes it's toll with oil consumption. I just changed it a few days ago, but I've also covered 1,122 miles during that time, which means that my bike has been slowly re-hydrating itself on my expensive synthetic Motul 10W-40.

I added about 200ml. When I did the oil change at Mario's I measured the oil that came out of the bike against what I had put in when I changed it last. I then added the amount of oil that I had put in while riding and came up with 700ml. So, during an 1,800 mile stretch of pretty hard riding, I managed to lose 700 ml of oil. I'm wondering what I'm going to lose this time around. I guess that's why I carry a quart and a half extra.

Still, a lot of my oil freak outs could be due to improper oil checks. I swear, there's a significant amount of voodoo magic that goes into checking the oil level on this bike. If you haven't sacrificed a few small animals to the oil gods during your day's ride, you're liable to get two drastically different oil readings only a few minutes apart.

As I was riding along, I came up on this truck with a few kids and what I assumed was their mother. One of the kids started making faces at me and another put on a mask as soon as he saw me so I tried to take his picture.

You can definitley see the mask, but the kid making faces (far left) is a little harder to see. I also saw this tricked out rig:

I'm assuming they are on a round the world trip. It's looked like a heavily modified F-350. I wish I could have got some better pictures, but my camera was dying.

I saw three adventure riders (two BMW's and one KLR) today as well, all heading in the opposite direction. I didn't stop to try and catch them, but I'm kind of wishing I did.

About 2 PM I crossed the Panama Canal into Panama city. I managed to snap one horrible picture before my camera died:

And a few minutes later I was at Mamallena's Hostel. $13 for a bunk in the dorm, $30 for a private room. I went for the dorm to save money.

I have mixed feelings about Hostels. The plus side is that they are generally really cheap, have good wifi, and good advice from english speakers. Unfortunately, the backpacker mentality and the adventurer rider mentality don't always mix that well. I talked about this in depth with all of the other ADV riders at San Pedro and they all agreed. It's not that the backpackers are bad people or really weird (though some of them are), they're just have a different mindset most of the time. Of course, the real downside is that you encounter a lot of Panchos, Spacers, and Wasteoids.

Panchos are people who walk around wearing those mexican hoodies that are made from the same material as a drug rug. They think they are really curturally savy and cool and hip and what not, but are generally just a Spacer or a Wasteoid, or both. (Chris, if you are reading this, we don't put you in this catagory).

A Spacer is kind of like a pseudo hippie. I met a bus full of Spacers at a McDonalds in Coban, Guatemala. They told me that they had just spent a week in the jungle at "Rainbow Fest". I asked them what "Rainbow Fest" was and they said that they had just sat around in the jungle and smoked a bunch of weed, done lots of meditating, made animal noises (i'm not joking, they actually said this), and did a bunch of other things that involved good vibes, positive thinking, feelings, etc, etc, etc, My brain just kind of shut down when they started talking and I started getting glassy eyed and going into cave man mode. I suddenly felt the urge to kill a small woodland creature and cook it on a fire right in front of them, or maybe just eat it raw. I had to force myself to snap out of it and be polite.

A Wasteoid is someone who has no purpose other than to get totally wasted as frequently as possible. They may look like a hippie, or a hipster, or a college kid, or whatever, but really they are just in Central America to drink as much booze and do as many drugs as they can on the cheap. They may try and pass themselves off as a hippie, but hippies actually have a purpose (or they used too at least). Wasteoids have no purpose. They just exist to spend their parents money on getting hammered 24/7, all while trying to look like they are simple, poor backpackers.

Kurt and Corey, the two Canadians, identified Panchos and Spacers for us. Since then, I've been noticing how much you run into those kinds of people down here. It's eerie and a little frusterating too. I'm going to have to get Corey to write something about Panchos and Wasteoids, I don't think my definition does it justice.

In any event, I'll get off my rant now. The Hostel seems nice and Panama City looks very modern. Here's some hastily snapped pictures. The patio:

One of the dorm rooms:

The back yard where they let me park the bike:

I'm going to go explore a little tomorrow and I'll post some more pics up then. I've been frying my ass off in my riding gear over the past few days; I may try and find a motorcycle shop tomorrow and buy some armor that I can wear instead of my jacket. Does anyone that's reading this know of any good shops in Panama City?


  1. Great updates Bryce! Glad to hear Justin will be alright.
    How are the Distanzias holding up? I think they will be my tire choice on my trip so I'm interested in your thoughts.


  2. Distanzias are doing great! I'm trying to hold out on changing them until I get to Ecuador or Peru. I might buy some tires here in colombia and take them with me to change later. I've got around 7,000 miles on them and I think they'll hold out for at least another 1-2k.