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Thread: The Border with Haiti - A Motorcycle Ride Report -

  1. #11
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    The Border with Haiti



    The temperature feels noticeably cooler while the motorcycle guides me up into a cloud. The trail


    improves with crushed stone and fewer boulders and gullies, still climbing continuously.





    It isn’t long before the trail leads me through lush tropical rainforest. Long strings of moss are


    hanging from the trees. There are palm trees and broad leaf plants all over and fog continues to


    thicken.





    It is hard to see through the fog.





    After a long stretch, the trail passes a military border outpost. Again there is only one person


    stationed here wearing full military gear complete with army boots, an M-16 rifle in his lap and


    the look. He is a pleasure to talk with and gives quite a reaction after describing my ride.
    "?solo? "ir la moto!" (you are alone! you are traveling on a motorcycle!) A big thumb's-up.





    The trees are covered in Spanish moss giving the trail an eerie look, cool!.





    A babbling spring is shooting up next to the trail and looks like a good spot to check the


    radiators coolant level. Looking around this place it reminds me of scene on a 'Pirates of the


    Caribbean' ride at Disney. This is fantasy ride through tropical island rainforest paradise.


    It is a good feeling not boiling off anymore radiator fluid. This means it not a leak in the


    radiator; its just me over stressing and overheating the engine. And the road seems to be getting


    better, meaning the motorcycle should survive the rest of the way and get me back to civilization,


    eventually. At times, it is easy to think about getting the hell out of here now, in one piece, as


    soon as possible. Surely, this must be a common emotion with any adventure or struggle. I get over


    it and carry on but use it as a reminder to be smart.




    Finally, the trail reaches the top of the mountain pointing steep downhill fast. I shut-off the


    engine and coast to save fuel, gravity gives me all the power needed. The rainforest is gone now


    and the trail is back to light and dry scrub brush and vistas of far away mountains and valleys,


    way cool.











    While riding down it is easy to see Lago Enriquillo off into the distance, the largest lake in the


    Caribbean. Lake Enriquillo is 25-40 meters below sea level. I started this ride today at sea


    level, I passed the second highest peak on the island and now I am descending to below sea level.


    How cool is that.





    Steep down hill to another official type building with a roadblock across the trail. A downed tree


    is the roadblock. My dirt is tall so it's no problem hopping over the tree. The noise I made


    jumping the tree attracted the two people working the building. It looked like a park forestry


    building and was. Again, both guys 'wow out' when I tell them where I just rode from, solo! They


    tell me I needed to get a permit somewhere. The way I came in is not the normal way into the park.


    They make it seem like it is no big deal that I am riding without a permit.





    At the bottom there is water. A check of the radiator fluid I proceed to circle the lake. There


    are over 6 villages on the shores of this lake, there has to be a motel or two. My first choice is


    to get to Descubierta, a village on the Haitian border closest to where my trail starts tomorrow.





    After reaching Descubierta with only a half an hour of daylight to spare, I check into the only


    hotel in town with adequate motorcycle parking. At least it's cheap, $7.50 a night. Shopping for


    adventure supplies for tomorrow's ride after is a problem here, finding water is no problem but


    there is no good road food, and I'm not fussy, I can pack and eat almost anything. The stores look


    like no supply truck has been here in months. Enough food for an evening meal, all is good. It is


    weird because there were many people cooking along the road when I first pulled into town. An hour


    later, everything is shutdown.





    In the hotel, I'm taking deep breaths thinking about todays ride and make a big 'wow!' face in the


    mirror. I have ridden dirt bikes on conditions similar to this but only for short bursts. This


    type of extreme off-road riding for 10 hours straight is new to me. It is like I just completed a


    marathon. Like I just experienced something culturally significant. I will never feel the same


    about the Dominican Republic or Haiti again. This is good...

  2. #12
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    The Border with Haiti


    Up before the roosters, what is up with that? My body is physically toasted from yesterday's ride, Sleep should come easy. Maybe it's like overtraining where you have trouble sleeping, I'm sure! Or maybe it's the excitement of today's ride, or the apprehension, 'I need to be on my toes today', 'I need to navigate well'. Thinking about what to do if I have a flat tire, I should be more prepared with an air pump and a patch kit. If the tire goes flat in an isolated area today, the tire will be filled with towels, socks, T shirts, leaves or grass, not air. A flat is not the main concern, its that the bike keeps running. If the bike quits, the only option will be to push it, downhill, whichever way that may be.





    I miss the trailhead turnoff and end up in some small village. A good thing, I pickup three loafs of bread and two more bottles of water, more emergency supplies incase a long hike or push is necessary. I must be prepared at all times. Anyway, there is only one turnoff outside of Descubierta so that must have been my trail I missed.





    The trail is steep leading high above the lake behind me.





    There are stunning views of rugged tropical terrain





    The road is steep but nothing like what I rode yesterday, not bad, not good.





    There are a few homes along the trail and people are walking with donkeys. The road is carved into the side of the mountain and at times, the mountainside facing the mountain is covered with flowers.








    A guidebook talks about one type of bell shaped flower, yellow with blue strips. It says the Taino Indians use to make a strong hallucinate tea from the flower. Reports are that there is still religious (and recreational) use of the tea today, although it is highly illegal. The bell shaped flowers are everywhere on this stretch of trail.





    On a steep section of road, A motorcycle passes me riding 2-up. I stop to take some pictures and they stop to stay hello. The driver is weaing a small tight black leather jacket and a helmet. The passenger is wearing a T-shirt and baseball cap. They look out of place here for some reason.








    Riding through the center of a small village is a small counter outside at a rustic colmado. Standing at the counter are the two bikers. They are fun to talk with. They just rode up here for the day, the boy on the back is originally from this village and the driver is from a town on the lake. The driver shows me his ID badge to prove he is Dominican. Not sure what that is about, maybe he is a spy, maybe CIA. He knows too much about Wisconsin. I consider everyone a spy and up to no good until proven different. I have fun with that and it serves a purpose. I study everyone I come across well, I want to know what his or her deal is ASAP. There are bad people everywhere, I want to know if I am close.





    Standing at the counter, this is the hub of the town.





    While drinking a coke at the colmado, a kid from the village walks over and tries striking up a conversation with me in English. He struggles with English but he was having fun. He asks me


    “Are you going into Haiti?”


    “Where are you from?”


    “That is Haiti right over there” pointing across the valley.


    He is from Haiti, he told me while he makes me feel at home here in this micro border village. The center of town seems to be this fifteen foot counter I'm standign at.





    The two guys on motorcycle are eating a plate of sliced sausage, cheese and yucca the colmado served up. They tell me that this is as far as they go. They are surprised to hear my plane to ride further up. I'm not sure why and wonder what they are really doing up here. The atmosphere in this isolated village is true Wild Wild West. It is for sure the most primitive village ever for me, to hung-out at. Buildings all looked like they are just thrown together with whatever material they could get a hold of. One small home is made of what looked like metal strips from large tin cans. One person inside the front door of a brick home with a sturdy tin roof motioned for me to take a photo. He states that it is a “buen casa? (good house). I agree and tell him so.





    At the end of another building, there are five or six people huddling around a pile of stones with a fire in the middle. They are starting to cook something and look as comfortable as if they are in the middle of their living room, they probably are. They give me nothing but smiles. This was an enjoyable stop for sure, a rest, a coke and a small talk with the locals. This is living to me, feeling the pulse of the culture and the scene from up close.

  3. Likes CFA123, greydread, bob saunders liked this post
  4. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derfish View Post
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but it is impossible to get to S America on a motorcycle.The road isn't there! The Darien Indians won't allow a road thru their area of Panama. I got that far, myself on a 650 Yamaha V-Star.
    Der Fish
    Der Fish, MANY ride to SA, Panama-Colombia border issues or not.

    Many.

    They find a way around. Maybe not a "road" but they cross all the time.

    There are entire websites dedicated to world adventure riding of just that sort.

    I personally know folks who have ridden Pt. Barrow AK to Tierra del Fuego by their lonesome on a bike. I'll bet Tom does also.

  5. Likes frank12 liked this post
  6. #14
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    Great job on the posts and photos cavebiker.

  7. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Derfish View Post
    Buyt I am enjioying the triplog! It is just that it is best to stick to facts instead of making up stuff!
    Der Fish
    For sure Derfish, adventure motorcycle community people like Cobraboy and I take it for granted that everyone knows you have to put your bike on a plane or boat in Panama to cross the Darien gap. Very common misconception.

    Thanks for enjoying the report.

    Oh yeah, talk about getting things right, cavegirl and I were on the road for over a year on that ride, he he

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    All Right, here we go!


    The Border with Haiti





    Haiti is constantly on my left hand side defined by the ridge I am riding along.


    After the village I rested at, the road turns extremely technical. I am right in front of people’s homes just hammering on the throttle to continue forward progress. That is weird to me thinking I must have missed a turnoff somewhere, this can’t be right. There is no other road in town, this has to be the right way.





    Home with a great view





    Soon the trail is less beaten down, much less. At times grass is growing across and it is difficult to distinguish the trail. Bouts of panic shoot through me. "Am I lost and have wandered into Haiti?"





    I pass a few homes with tarps laid out in the sun drying coffee beans. One home is flying a Dominican Republic flag, good!








    With the camera zoomed to a Haitian village across the valley, the deforestation is extremely evident. It is a dramatic landscape with steep and sharp hillsides and little vegetation.














    The trail continues to change form, there are long sections of mud and water with areas hard to distinguish where the trail is, and areas that are so narrow there is only room for a single track, too narrow for a jeep. At times the trail darkens and engulfes me in a canopy of green wet jungle, other times the trail runs up a hillsides almost straight up on bowling ball size rocks. Its a constant surprise, changing all the time, no time to get bored because soon it will change and usually to something completely different. This trail is an absolute motorcycle dirt rider’s dream. But, at the same time, I am just waiting for something major to go wrong with the motorcycle, this is ‘way’ too much fun for it not to be bad.








    Going up and getting greener





    and thicker





    and wetter





    and steeper





    I wish there was someone along to photograph a motorcycle pounding up these trails. I am sure it would look cool on video.





    Oh Yeah! I just swam the bike through this. You can still see my 2-cycle engine smoke from standing on the throttle trying to keep it moving. That is fun.





    more fun











    The trail narrows





    Around a corner under a dark canopy of green pops out a massive bull. Pulling the bike over as much as possible I stand still and let the bull pass. Soon after, a man and his young son are walking with another bull. Everyone on this trail has had generous smiles and waves for me, like always being among friends.

  9. #17
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    Wow! This makes me want to get a DT and go up there too...

  10. #18
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    The Border with Haiti






    There is no way a four-wheel drive vehicle could get through here, not without a chainsaw, a winch and a way to move large boulders. The trail is too narrow and the gullies are too severe. Ultimate for a small dirt bike though.






    After climbing for over four hours the trail finally reaches the top of the mountain. This motorcycle always surprises me with the gas mileage, but with only a 2.2-gallon tank, I take precautions and ride down the mountain without the motor running. This is a fun way to go, a silent technical sport. The ride still takes me through all the severe drop-offs, boulders and gullies, there is just no need for extra power, gravity gives me all I want and more.






    Stealthing down the side of the mountain I pass a few very isolated homesteads and some very isolated people living in them. The homes are primitive, usually one room. The roofs are often made from palm tree bark and sticks. The windows and doors are simple openings, uncovered.






    A young child is riding a donkey packing a heavy load, another teenage boy is carrying a huge plastic buckets atop his head. Everything feels so mellow and natural here. People along the trail light up when I stop the motorcycle to just say hello. It seemes like many do not speak Spanish but a polite ‘hola, buen dia!’ (Hello, nice day) from me always works well. Every area makes me feel like staying longer, to just hangout.






















    The trail continues on and on seemly for hours. Finally, a valley pops into view with what looks like civilization.






    The homes are looking more modern now






    The riding continues to be technical and I am taking a physical beating. I try to rest often and eat the bread I am packing.














    What an ultimate ride






    The Dominican Republic Rocks

  11. #19
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    Couldn't wait and ended up finding your website. The best report I have ever read. Thanks.

    Matilda

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    Quote Originally Posted by caribmike View Post
    Wow! This makes me want to get a DT and go up there too...
    For sure, just bring extra water
    Although, I wonder how the air-cooled DT125 would do. The photos do not show it but the trail is STEEP for long distances and there is a ton of strain on the motor. I think it would do just fine though, I may be trying it myself next. The saying at HorizonsUnlimited.com is "The right motorcycle for the ride is the one you have"

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