Leaving Montréal

We arrive in Montréal a day earlier than originally planned so we make the most of it to go and find out where we need to be to ship the bikes. It is Labour day Monday, the roads are quiet and the industrial areas deserted. The first building at the 2200 address seems to be offices only so we ride on. Oh, a bike, another overlander! We ride over. There are 3 people. We ask if they are shipping with Air Canada and we mention we were finding out where we were expected to go the next day. One of them, the non biker asks our name: he just sent Anthony an email a few minutes ago about our shipment. He’s the one Anthony has been dealing with regarding the dangerous good clearance exercise tomorrow. What amazing timing!!! Once again! The area is deserted apart from those 3 and we arrive just at the right time, just before the bike was being ridden into the building for weighing, out of sight. We set a time for tomorrow and get back to our hotel room to repack which includes going through all our liquids, and removing a few ‘dangerous’ items such as any glue of any kind, including the minute tyre repair tube of glue, our tent repair glue and our WD-40 spray. A good time to throw out any old medication, find a few things that need throwing out like the squashed tube of cream that’s leaked out over a few other things (thank goodness for zip lock bags or the mess would have been worse!), clean up and repack. We keep to one side some items we are not sure about.

About to drop Streak and Storm off at Air Canada Cargo - our North American leg complete

About to drop Streak and Storm off at Air Canada Cargo – our North American leg complete

Time to weigh the packed Streak

Time to weigh the packed Streak

First we weigh the bikes. 270kgs each, exactly. I bet Anthony wishes his bike had been as light as 270kgs during our travels! We reckon his was 20kgs heavier than mine, especially when he carried extra water and fuel. This weight doesn’t include the small pack we each have with a few changes of clothes, shoes and toiletries for the next few days.

Anthony removed the fuel container cap to let all the fumes out

Anthony removed the fuel container cap to let all the fumes out

Our dangerous goods check is very quick and painless: we tell the guy what we have removed such as the helmet bluetooth units (because of the lithium batteries) and tar remover spray and show him all the items we weren’t sure about: the brake fluid is fine, other tubes of glue he doesn’t like but we may be able to take them as part of our hand luggage. Dangerous goods check complete, time to pay for the service. Next is some security check. Pity the airport security guy has a bad attitude problem but lucky we decided go back to the bikes and I repack the lump of the first pannier he’d “repacked” to find out he had simply thrown everything back, the box of bits and pieces upside down, and even Anthony’s 60th birthday Zippo lighter from Myanmar out of it’s box and the pannier was barely closed – everything inside would have got wet had it rained on it somewhere. Slack. Our Air Canada contact Mario was very apologetic and suggests we can X-ray the other 3 panniers and camping bags without the bad attitude guy having to open them. Great idea. And no repacking necessary.

An hour after we first arrived, invoice paid, Streak and Storm in the hands of Air Canada Cargo and we are all done. This is the quickest, simplest and cheapest shipping process we’ve had on our whole trip. Thank you Air Canada. Here’s hoping collecting the bikes at Heathrow in a couple of days’ time is as easy…

A little lump in our throats, we say goodbye to our trusted bikes, until our last little leg from Heathrow to Verwood later this week.

Now we have a couple of days to fill – that’s how we feel, it’s odd. We wish we could leave now. Anthony did check – the cost of changing our flights is ridiculous. We go into the city, to the Old Montreal, which we last visited in 1985. There are a couple of Inuit art galleries I want to visit with stone sculptures and prints. Most of what we see seems to be the same – so many dancing bears, of various sizes. Oh dear… I am not feeling it. Is it me or is it the artwork? Probably both. We walk through the streets, full of tourist shops with the same goods, then onto the port. It all feels soulless. Nothing like the small South American old towns, that were always buzzing with life and fascinating history. I did like the look of this small restaurant – pity their menu wasn’t more inspiring – and the South American trio playing at the top of the pedestrian area – thank you for bringing a bit of life to the area!

Jardin Nelson in Montréal

Jardin Nelson in Montréal

A haircut the next day for both of us (Anthony can stop telling me I have the same booffy hairstyle as Trump now, cheek!), some blogging, note taking, bill paying and general administrative stuff. We are ready for our flight back to the UK. Think of us Saturday around 10am UK time, when we are planning on getting back to Anthony’s sister Tansy in Verwood, where we started our trip from nearly 15 months ago. That will mark the official end of our round the world on motorcycles tour… The butterflies of excitement are starting to fly around at the thought!! Stay tuned, our wonderful followers and supporters, for a final blog post…

– Anne

The bikes are back in town

I stand under the roof of the old control tower at Tocumen International Airport, now part of the cargo complex, as another COPA, the local airline, B737 roars overhead, looks like the 800 series

for those who are really interested. We have started the process to be reunited with our bikes, and already the information we have on the process to retrieve them is incorrect. This information came from a friend who undertook the same process a week earlier. Nothing stays the same or should be taken for granted when following ours or other people’s instructions.

Anne has disappeared into the distance and out of sight while I remain with our two small bags and a five litre water container now filled with fuel. We had problems getting this filled, due to sensible safety concerns at the petrol stations our taxi driver tried to fill the water container up at. Finally one petrol station provided a loan fuel container which we could the transfer then fuel to our water bottle out of sight. Anne’s fuel tank has so little fuel left after being drained in Medellin that I doubt that the petrol filter is still wet.

As the countries we travel through are closer to our safety conscious western ways, the standards increase and the enforcement of the rules grow. In some countries fuel, or what purports to be fuel, is sold in old soft drink bottles at the side of the road. ‘Caveat emptor’ we take the risk here, as at home risk is regulated away – rules and enforcement encourage the correct behaviour of all, except usually those who it was targeted at in the first place who ignore the rules anyway. I have no doubt that most people who have been impacted by accident or injury as a result of failure of safety rules would disagree with me and, probably if I or a loved one was affected I would think differently. However at this time, I believe we still need to opportunity for adventure and perhaps risk in our lives and should be afforded it, if it only impacts ourselves. Enough rambling from me, yes I am still waiting for Anne to return, what topical subject should I tackle next while I wait?

Anne is back, our bikes were shipped with a different airline, so the initial instructions have changed. I have moved to new location a few hundred meters away. Time to ponder again.

What should be our next subject? Since I am not on Twitter, Facebook or other social media and more importantly do not have internet access at this time, I will need to choose. ‘US Presidential election 2016 campaign’ . Anne is back and has the three stamps and knows where to go for the temporary import permit. I think I will soon be on unwrapping and assembly duty soon. As we have been travelling north and now have less than 10 months before we return to Australia, we are thinking about our future. Since we retired a couple of years ago, we think what next, Chapter two after Chapter one ‘A year in Europe, interrupted by RTW motorcycle trip’. I had idly thought: how about working for a US Presidential Candidate in their campaign? Probably not sensible as they seem to take clever hardworking young Americans, and I suspect that when I get back to Australia, I will have to work to pay for all the fun times we will have had in two and a half years. Yes, by the time we get back in March 2016, we will have been travelling since September 2014, which was not our original plan of 9 months in Europe seeing family and back home. Great how life can unfold. I had no idea when we left Australia that I could end up sitting in an airport car park in Panama.

I hope we do not have to ride the bikes off the loading dock, the meter plus vertical drop will be a challenge for the bikes’ suspension.

Panama cargo area - the drop is a bit too much for the bikes

Panama cargo area – the drop is a bit too much for the bikes

No, a back door exists and after donning a safety vest and changing my red warehouse visitors access card for a green airport apron access card, the bikes are then delivered on a metal frame just outside the gates literally, the front wheels are just outside the gates.

Our bikes are now delivered at Panama airport

Our bikes are now delivered at Panama airport

A tiny bit of shade to reassemble the bikes

A tiny bit of shade to reassemble the bikes

We fill motorbikes with fuel and are ready to depart for places unknown, err not quite, the steady flow of petrol from under the seats, where the petrol pump and filter we removed to drain the fuel tanks in Medellin must have not been replaced properly. We push the bikes away from the petrol bowsers for safety reasons and quickly start to syphon fuel from the tanks into spare containers. A downpour of rain makes life a little more problematic, and with no cover to work on the bikes, we decide to stay a night longer and find a dry hotel in town.

One of the 2 drowned rats while waiting for rain to stop.

One of the 2 drowned rats while waiting for rain to stop.

A quick internet booking and we are set for a slow ride to town having syphoned enough fuel out of the tanks to stop the leaking.

We remove Anne’s pump first, reseat the pump and gasket, all looks good, refit the locking ring, refill Anne’s tank and the fuel just runs out again. Damm.. We need to go to BMW as this is beyond our basics skills and the gasket is probably damaged . BMW Motorrad is not too far away, and here we meet Arturo, who is very helpful and arranges for their mechanics to look at the motorbikes even though they are busy – they will replace the gaskets. They also confirm we need new front tyres and that my suspicions of a problem regarding the steering are correct. Anne had questioned hers previously but had been told all was ok so put it down to her highly sensitive sense of balance. We will need new steering head bearings but as they are very busy with other bikes, they can’t get to that this week. The tyres will have to be done in San Jose, Costa Rica as none of our size are available in Panama and the steering head bearings will also be done in San Jose under warranty. Arturo has kindly contacted BMW Motorrad in San Jose to confirm availability and prices, very helpful for us.

Panama uses US dollars and we need to get some smaller banknotes and yesterday we used a 100 dollar bill at a supermarket finding that for each 100 dollar bill they need your ID, signature and two staff counter signatures. Interesting that they are so concerned about this – forgeries I presume?

We have the bikes back and are set to go tomorrow.

– Anthony