Sixth Travel letter, the 13th of April 1995
Guyaquil ECUADOR

To me it seems like it's a very long time ago that I wrote my last travel letter, and it is only 5 weeks ago. When I left Guatemala I went to Copan (Honduras) another large Maya ruin. Well, it is interesting to see the kind of sacrifice people have made for religion. It takes many man years to create temples like the ones in Copan or Tikal, even to maintain them in their current shape takes a lot of work, and the temples were given up long before the Spanish arrived.

Next I moved to the Caribbean coast to a town called Tela, but the weather was bad and so was my feelings of the town, so I moved further east to Trujillo. It lies in an beautiful bay far away from everything so I quite liked it there, although there is not much to do else, than relax, service the bike, read a book and perhaps enjoy a cold beer with the fish-dinner you eat after swimming for an hour in the Caribbean sea.

From Trujillo there is a back road to the Capital, Tegucigalpa, which I decided to try. The road was for the most part not bad at all. There is something special about the gravel roads in these countries, if they are just as smooth as an asphalt road, the surface is as solid as concrete, but once holes occurs in the road they, unfortunately, are very solid as well. I continued through the Capital and stayed in a small town called Danli, where I met a guy from the U.S. who were hoping to make a fortune selling petrified wood found in this area to the states. It is very beautiful, when cut you can see all the lines from the tree, but it is heavy and solid as stone. The next day we went for a ride out in the area, hot as hell but beautiful. It is nice staying in a small non-touristy town, feeling the slow pace, getting a hair cut and practicing your Spanish with locals who never saw a BMW-bike before.

Nicaragua I did on one day, as it is quite expensive and I felt I had to move on, during the drive through the country you drive along "Lago de Nicaragua", which has 2 volcanos as an Island in the middle, but beside that I can't tell much about this country.

The next day in Costa Rica I met Rodi Fastabend, who I wrote about in my last travel letter. He was feeling cold and lonely and had turned around to go back to El Salvador to continue his business. (It actually turned out later that he had caught a cold driving in the rain the day before). We decided to go together to the south, and we actually stayed together until the day before yesterday, when our roads parted. In my travel guide I had seen that there should be a very nice Jungle train from Turrialba to Puerto Limon, so that was our goal for the day. Unfortunately, the train had ceased in 1991, but it was a very pleasant town and the hilly region in Costa Rica is beautiful.

The next day we went back to the main road and continued our trip south, but soon we ran out of daylight, it was raining and we were faraway from everything. We asked somebody there in the middle of nowhere for directions to a hotel and he said we should just follow this tiny gravel-road away from the main road and into the cloud forest. As we followed his advice and the road got worse and worse, I very much doubted it all and I didn't mind at all having a "companero", but finally we arrived at the "hotel". It turned out to be a site owned by the Austrian government. They had bought a large piece of cloud forest to protect it and had build this "Holiday Resort" so that their own people could visit it. It was very exclusive, all made in Bamboo and with room for only 20 guests. Unfortunately they were full, of course we were disappointed and due to the rain we must have looked as wet dogs, and finally they offered us to stay in one of their bungalows, which were normally used by their researchers. The only hitch was that we had to stay on the main track because of poisonous snakes, but we were happy, and later we had the most delicious Austrian dinner you can imagine.

Picture The next day we arrived in Panama, where we spend the night at a Beach resort owned by a German, who was proud that he had served in the "Luftwaffe" during the 2nd World War - strange, this is the first time ever that I have met a German who was proud of his past. Although I am raised 5 km north of the German border I have never met a German who have told me anything of his participation in the war. But I guess, if you are a real soldier you have a right to be proud of it no matter what the outcome is, and maybe it was only Hitler who was bad and the rest of Germany just obeying orders and not thinking; maybe that is why I have never been a soldier.

Picture We I arrived in Panama City just in time to enjoy the Carnival for the rainy-season, I took some nice pictures of the possessions, unfortunately, some one else took them and my nice camera and bag, while I was busy buying a Pizza - "Shit happens"! We spend a few days in Panama City, but the only special thing there is the Panama Canal, and the Motorcycle Club on the military base no longer is open for mc-travelers.

It was time to say goodbye to Central America. Earlier you had to put yourself and the bike on a plane and fly to Columbia, but now (since December 4th) there is a ferry from Colon to Cortagena: It is a very nice ferry, and I might have been on it before, since the ferry used to belong to the Norwegian company Color line, which operates ferries between Denmark and Norway. The crew on the ferry was hired from Silja-line, a large Swedish ferry company - yes, it is a small world.

Picture I would have thought this was a very popular line, since it is the only connection between South and Central America, but there were less that 50 passengers, 4 motorcycles and one car on the boat, and I am sure the entire crew was larger. In the evening there was a nice show, but it felt a bit strange, since there were so few passengers.
Picture I have difficulties seeing how they make a profit out of this. We paid 100$ each for a 2 bed cabin and 50$ for the bikes, and it included all meals, but somebody told me that now the line was running so well that they planned to insert another ferry, but on the other hand, nobody is supposed to understand where the money comes from in Columbia/Panama. Also another strange thing was that the ferry was not allowed to take bikes and cars from Colombia to Panama.

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Cartagena in Columbia is beautiful, but a very hot town. We stayed there for a few days in order to get Rodi well again, he had a high fever and had to go to the doctor to get some medicine, and of course, we had to celebrate my birthday - yes, I am changing into another part of statistics, I no longer belong to the 25-34 years class - but what can I do. The next major stop was to be Bogota, the capital of Columbia on the way there we experienced a very interesting traffic breakdown. The traffic suddenly stopped, and you could not see the end of the line or the cause of the stop - so cars and trucks went out on the left lane to get passed the line. Well this seems to have happened from both sides and now everything was simply stucked, nobody could go nowhere - very interesting, there was some police on motorcycles, but it seemed as if they just wanted to get through as fast as possible just as us. I never saw any cause of problem, and I guess, they are still all stuck there.

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In Bogota I got new tires which had worried me for the last few capitals. 17" 130/80 rear tires are obviously not normal in this part of the world.

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Picture The best thing about Columbia was that we would for the first time get real Coffee always, and it was good. Normally the waiter would tell you that you could get anything you wanted from him "real good stuff", but I didn't feel any desire in that direction. Rodi tried a cigarette which made him stupid but he thought it was good and I guess that's what matters. We also visited a nice old town "Ville de Leuva" and some stones from an unknown 5000 years old culture, which nobody knew anything about in San Augustin. But after two weeks we were at the border of Ecuador, all travel guides says you have to have a "carnet de Pasage", which we didn't have so we were a bit worried, but it turned our to be the easiest border so far.

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In Ecuador we have stayed in Quito and at the beach at San Vincente, and of course we went up to see the monument at Equator. The Central area of Columbia and Ecuador are quite high 2500-3500 meter, which implies that the climate is quite pleasant, warm days, cool nights, but the high altitude also makes you exhausted after just climbing few stairs, so is is nice being down at sea level again, at full power although it is hot. On Saturday I will go on a 5 day trip to Galapagos - very expensive, but I thought that now I am here I should go there, I might not have the chance again soon, and only 60.000 is allowed to visit the island each year. I will tell you later if it was worth it. This is also the reason Rodi and I split up, he went on to Peru, but I guess I will meet him again, probably when he is on his way back from Tierra del Fuego. This is all for now...
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