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Saturday, February 12, 2011

We Reach!!

Yes, indeed.. we reach Toco today!!

As is usual for this trip, things did not go exactly as planned .. :)
Rebecca is, to the best of my knowledge, still in Güiria.
Many of the folks who had planned to accompany us on the last leg couldn't make it last minute.
In the end, Aunty Vilma, Michelle and I drove up to Toco to finish the trip off proper.
I did spend a good couple hours visiting with Danny while up at Aunty Vilma's house.

So this concludes the formal portion of this broadcast. I will be back in Canada in the morning, and will put together one final post to wrap up the story of this adventure.

Stay tuned for one more...

Michelle on the rocks under the lighthouse

At the lighthouse

Aunty Vilma

Alvin "Danny" Daniels


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Day 129

This morning I crated up Rebecca. I am trusting her to Miguel and his shipping partners. I really hope I see that bike again.

We've just docked in Chaguramaus, Trinidad but there seems to be some delay in getting the Customs and Immigration folks set up to check us into the country.

One of the ship's crew just placed bright desk lamps on a couple of the lounge tables. It looks like the checking will start right here on the boat.

The trip over was decent. No big waves, so I did not get seasick.

While the sun was up, the breeze was warm and inviting on the upper deck of the ship.

After a light rain, we were treated to a tiny rainbow, and a wonderful sunset.

I met an interesting Polish sailor whose been bouncing around Central America and the Caribbean since 2006. Karol's a bright, fun fellow who has seen quite and experienced quite a bit. The only issue I had to correct him on was who has the best Carnival. Can you believe he said Brazil!

He's introduced me to the idea of traveling the world as crew aboard random ships. That's his plan to see all the continents, whil

Not a bad idea :)

Oh yes, I was in the radio this morning. You can listen here:
(sorry the link is not iPhone-friendly)

Still Goin' Toco...

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Day 128 - Still in Güiria

Big news, folks!
Your's truly will be on the radio tomorrow morning.
Today I taped an interview with Matt Galloway and it should be aired during his Metro Morning program on CBC Radio 1 in Toronto on Wednesday February 9.
His show is on 99.1 FM and runs **early** --- from 5:45 M(!) to 8:30 AM

Thanks Roxy!


Miguel, my shipping agent here in Güiria, tells me they've found a shipping crate for Rebecca. We should be packing her up later today.

Well, that's the plan ....

In other news, last night I got the final, tragic definitive word that there is NO roti shop in Güiria.

I can hardly believe it. We're less than 50 miles from Port-of-Spain. With the right winds I can smell the cumin and curry from Patraj's shop near the Oval..

One more sleep, and St. James, here we come!


Last night a couple of rookie cops stopped me while I was walking down the street. They wanted to check my papers.

Then one of them tries to ask me for money before he'll hand back my passport.
But he's so clumsy in his lame extortion attempt (and in his English), his partner can hardly keep from giggling at him.

Sensing no real danger here, I break out in my best gringo accent, 'No fumar espanol', and that pretty much ends the conversation.

I guesture at their parked moto, and older model KLR 650 like my 'becca, and give them a smile and 2 thumbs up.

Back comes the passport.

Good night, Güiria's finest... I'm off to the hotel to dream of black cake and rum punch.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Day 124 - Where in the world is Güiria?

Just a little ping to let everyone know I´m alive and safe.

I´m in Guiria, Venezuela and trying to deal with getting me and the bike to Trinidad.

It looks like my luck has finally run out.Right now it´s not looking good for Rebecca making the rest of the trip. Given that I seem to have forgotten to budget for this last bit (doh!), the close to $2,000 USD costs involved with getting her home may prove to be my undoing.

She may have to overstay her papers here in Venezuela. If I can find her a good home, that may not be too bad.

All is not quite lost yet. I have some folks (including the incomparable Daunette, and my new friend Roberto) working very hard at helping me find a solution that brings us all home together.

The latest schedule sees me catching the ferry to T&T next Wednesday, and then flying back to T.O. on Sunday.

If we´re lucky, ´becca will be on a cargo ferry on Monday afternoon, land in Chaguramaus and then ...

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Day 121 Last night in South America

The plan was ... ha ha, I always smile when I have to start a blog post with those words..

We decided to wake before dawn to beat the crazy rush hour traffic from El Junquito into Caracas.
What we didn't factor in was the effect of eating 3-day old Chinese food the night before.
To be fair, we bought the food thinking it was fresh. I've found that Chinese chefs have an amazing ability to make anything taste good. At least long enough for you to go back for seconds a half-hour later.

For us, the bad news didn't kick in until the wee pre-dawn hours.

And, so we left late.

A quick stop at Maybi's house to say goodbye. That wonderful lady even gave me a present :)

Then a ride down that mad hill, this time in daylight, but with the interesting addition of fog. I swear, I don't know how these folks manage this daily. 'Nuff respect!!

[VIDEO to come later]

We rode to Roberto's workplace where we said our goodbyes before I got on the highway - Eastbound.

It's fairly uneventful riding east from Caracas, but I did manage to meet some really friendly and inquisitive boys at one of the gas stops along the way.

Minor roadside repair needed when the ballast for my HID headlight shook loose. Again.
Thankfully this happened while I was already stopped at a light, as it got stuck between the cowling and the fork, and prevented me from turning the wheel.

Zip ties to the rescue.

I'm going to add this particular brand to my DO NOT PURCHASE list!

Pelicans waiting for scraps
My riding day ended fairly early with me checking into the Hotel Minerva in Cumana.

Last night we had called ahead looking for hotels that accept International (dollar-denominated) credit cards, as I STILL can't get cash out of the bank machines in this country. Beware of that if you do visit...

This time tomorrow we'll be docking in TRINIDAD!!! Whoo hoo!!

Reality check: I still haven't found a flight for 'becca to come home. Please drop me a comment or email if you have contacts with a reliable freight-forwarder.

Still Goin' Toco...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Press Release - Please circulate

Contact: Darren Baptiste                                                                                          FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tel: +1 647 407 0118
Trini-born Man Rides His Motorcycle Back Home -- From Canada

“I wish that everyone dared to make their dreams come true.” 
Everyday we hear people talk excitedly about their dreams and goals, yet act as though they are unattainable. One Trinidadian-born man now living in Canada decided to live out his dream and ride his motorcycle 16,000 kms from Toronto to Trinidad. At 7:30 PM on Wednesday Feb 2, Darren Baptiste and his motorcycle Rebecca, will get off a ferry boat in Chaguaramas and begin crossing the 12th country of their 4-month long journey.
The trip that began Oct 3 in Toronto, will end this weekend under the lighthouse in Toco.
The journey is called “Goin’ Toco” and has been documented on a web site set up to follow the trip.
At a time when many are feeling overcome by their circumstances, and others are stagnating in their same old boring routines, this one man’s journey has allowed hundreds of others to, at least for a moment, live vicariously through his adventures.
From accidents to illnesses to crooked policemen, interspersed with teaching children and learning Spanish, all the twists and turns of the journey have made for many interesting stories.

As one woman commented on the web site,
I love how everything you happenstance upon is such an exciting experience for you, and how you in turn make it exciting for me the reader. Yes, keep the tales coming!

# # #
If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Darren Baptiste, please call or text 647-407-0118, or email

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Day 118 - Caracas

Yes, it's true. Gasoline in Venezuela is ridonkulously cheap.

A 600ml bottle of Coca-Cola costs B $12.

Filling my 'becca's tank with 20 litres of gas costs B $2. To each other, Venezuelans sell the locally produced oil very cheaply. On the world markets, it has a much higher price. I wish the Canadian government could understand the inherent benefits of using national resources to improve the national standard of living...

I'm happy to report that the roads improved immeasurably East of Lago Maracaibo. Once I passed through that hot city, we were onto paved, divided highways with 2-lanes in each direction.

Random thoughts on the road:

- The highways can be signed with different speed limits for different lanes.

- The collection of tolls has been discontinued. The toll booths remain, but are "staffed" only by local folks hawking everything from toilet brushes to cellphone chargers.

- Just beyond each toll booth, one or more police officers, backed by soldiers clad in fatigues, rifles and bandoliers stop vehicles seemingly randomly for spot checks. I've been told they're looking for stolen vehicles, contraband goods and illegal drugs.

- All of the regional roads, aside from the major highways, have countless topes (aka "sleeping policemen" or speed bumps). The majority of the ones I encountered are not marked. Their presence can be determined by looking for the random child selling bags of plantain chips, or old men selling rubber slippers.

My second night in the country was spent at a no-tell motel... and that's all I'm saying.

Confusing Caracas traffic got the better of me. I did manage to find and checkout 3 different hotels, each with a price tag more shocking than the last.
Finally after fatigue had set in, I stumbled across the Hotel Las Americas. Again, it was ultra expensive, but by then my resolve was shot. At least they had Internet en la habitacion, y agua calor.

Saturday morning I met with Roberto and his girlfriend Maybi.

A quick stroll through a nearby square on the way to breakfast had us pass a statute to the only Black Admiral (the Navy equivalent of a General) in Simon Bolivar's revolutionary forces.

We spent the afternoon looking at condo units for Maybi and Roberto to buy.

Lunch was a lovely garlic fish
with rice at Laguna Beach. The midday views from the beach next to the restaurant were stunning. I can only imagine the sunset...

Roberto is still working hard to help me sort out how 'becca will get to Trinidad. In the meantime it was decided I would spend at least tonight, and perhaps the next few days as well at his home. It's up in hills west of Caracas.

Getting through the city to the base of the hill was simple enough - even though it involved several of my least favourite moto situations: driving on a big highway at night, while lane splitting through mad traffic.

Bonus: how many things wrong can you spot in the previous sentence?

Half-way up the hill we pulled over to buy some drinks. I had to shake Roberto's hand and acknowledge he had far more guts than I. Even though he's only been riding for 2 years, tackling that hill, in that traffic, with those potholes as part of his daily commute ... I'd say the man has a pair of brass ones, size extra large.

Following him up the hill we passed on curves, lane split between giant busses and sheer drops. I suggested that simply waiting in the line behind the other vehicles might be easier (to reduce the little-girlish shrieks inside my helmet).

That idea went over like a lead zeppelin. So off we went!

But we made it. Through all the craziness I still didn't Troy my shorts, so that's a good thing.

Sunday will be a day of rest (for Rebecca) and a day of code writing for me.

Still Goin' Toco...

Location:Carretera El Junquito