Saturday, June 25, 2011
Unfortunately, you cannot plan for every possibility. For the monkey wrench that inevitably gets launched into every well-oiled machine (or well-planned journey), I've learned that you have to be willing to let go of control and be able to trust in the kindness of strangers. People who are unfamiliar with international travel wonder how we communicate without speaking the local language. When we were in southeast Asia, we used phrase books to learn the basic pleasantries and essentials and largely used gestures (and calculators for monetary transactions requiring bargaining!) in the instances when no one around spoke any English. The handful of sticky predicaments we found ourselves in were largely relieved by strangers who recognized that we were in need (probably by the look of panic on my face) and stepped in to help. I realize that not every person is trustworthy and that we do need to be on guard in many situations, at home and elsewhere, but I do know that we will be alright through our own preparedness and through the kindness of strangers.
One of the biggest issues that we have been working on is how to ship the bikes to Africa. After much time on the phone and internet, Re has found a shipper that can get them there. Originally, we hoped to be able to ship our bikes (and ourselves) out of somewhere on the east coast of the US. We discovered that Delta has a direct flight from Atlanta to Johannesburg, and South African Airlines has flights from DC and New York to Johannesburg and had hoped to be able to use one of these options. Sadly, no. It seems that since 9/11 the cargo regulations have changed, and almost everyone we spoke to (be they an airline representative or freight forwarder) declined to ship our bikes as they are considered, "personal effects". Re also contacted several companies that specifically advertise shipping motorcycles as a part of their business and only found one that would even give us a quote. Two tiny bikes that can be packed together in a 36x40x62 inch crate and weigh a total of approximately 500 pounds shipped to Johannesburg for the low, low price of only $8500!?!
We declined that offer and turned our attention north to Canada, to British Airways, and our new friend, Savio. Savio gave us a quote of approximately $2000 to Cape Town, South Africa. Cape Town has always been our preference over Johannesburg and we were overjoyed to discover that BA has a flight from London directly to Cape Town. That price is only for airport to airport service, so we will have to deliver our bikes to the airport in Toronto and will have to sort out customs ourselves on the South Africa end. Unfortunately, we can't book our freight shipment until we are within two weeks of departure, which means we have to book our flights and trust that everything will work out.
Oh, and the bikes have to be crated. One problem solved, one new problem. Now we have to figure out how to either crate the bikes at a relative's house in the US and get them to Toronto or how to crate them in Toronto after we ride them there. After more phone calls we found a crating company in Toronto who can build us a crate, but we would still have to partially disassemble the bikes, load them in the crate and deliver the 500 pound crate to the airport. Sigh.
Carnet de Passages en Duane for the bikes. Carnet is like a passport for the bikes that is required by some of the countries that we will visit. The function of Carnet is that "(i)t offers a guarantee to a foreign government that the vehicle identified in the Carnet, if granted temporary importation status, will be removed from the country within the time limit imposed by the respective jurisdiction. In the event that the vehicle is not removed within the imposed time frame, the country may claim from the Carnet issuer all duties and taxes that would be required to permanently import the vehicle to that country."
In order to have Carnet issued, you must supply proof of ownership, photos of the vehicles, passport photos, copies of the owner's passport, and an application to the issuing organization. Here in North America, the Canadian Automobile Association is the exclusive organization that issues Carnet. Suzanne Danis is the person in charge of issuing Carnet at the CAA and has been extremely helpful in assisting us with the process and answering all of our questions. We were able to send all of our documents and complete most of our communication by email.
Carnet is an expensive document to acquire for two reasons. It costs $650 per bike to have it issued and you must either deposit a large sum of money with the issuer or purchase an indemnity policy in order to cover the cost of the taxes and penalties that the issuer would be responsible for if you did not remove your vehicle from the country you were visiting. The amount of money you must deposit is a multiple of the vehicle's value, and the multiple depends on which countries you are visiting. (it can be as much as 3 times the value of the vehicle). We will have to deposit $5000 for each bike or we could buy an indemnity policy (which is also based on the value of the vehicle) for an additional $550 each. The cost of Carnet is another reason we chose the Symbas- their low cost translates into a smaller amount of money we have to deposit. (I've read stories of people remortgaging their homes in order to put up the deposit.) We decided on the cash deposit route and to mail a cashier's check but, just to make life more interesting, the Canadian Postal Service is currently having a nationwide strike. Sigh. So that leaves us using an international wire transfer, which would be easy if the nearest branch of our credit union wasn't over 300 miles away. Hopefully that will get taken care of this week.
On the plus side, the sun is finally out in Portland this weekend. I'm going riding today and we're headed for the beach tomorrow!
Monday, June 20, 2011
|Pacsafe, "alarmed" cable, and padlocks|
|"Custom made" bike cover. Pretty, huh?|
|Re and her craft project|
Please don't get the impression that we are overly concerned with our safety on this trip. We found the overwhelming majority of people we met on our last trip to be honest, friendly, and extremely helpful. That said, there are people everywhere who have bad intentions or are desperate to survive and see Westerners as wealthy and easy targets. It is humbling to realize the vast majority of the world can't even imagine having the financial ability to visit another country, much less take their own motorbikes with them. We just want to minimize the chances of running into trouble by taking some reasonable precautions and removing the temptation.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
|Heart of a lion in this one, eh?|
|Rebekah and her sister looking foxy, circa 1975|
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
|Both Yampa bags are in this compression sack|
One of the big shames of the developing world is bottled water. Wherever we went in SE Asia we were saddened by the piles of water bottles stacked or floating everywhere. We attempted to not be part of the problem on our last trip by taking Nalgene bottles and an MSR Sweetwater water purification system. The MSR worked great for the first TWO WEEKS of our trip when the pump handle snapped. What a piece of junk that we ended up carrying around for the next 9 months until we could return it. Gotta love REI's return policy! This time we are trying the First Need XL water purifier, it's an all mechanical purification system (no bad tasting drops!) that removes everything. The drawback to the system seems to be that the filter is only supposed to be good for 150 gallons, so we are taking a second filter. We hope that this purifier, Nalgene bottles and two MSR 4L Dromedary bags will give us the ability to avoid bottled water as much as possible.
|All of our clothes for a year!|
|Looking and feeling sexy in her new gear!|
For riding footwear we looked at all kinds of waterproof motorcycle boots but couldn't find a pair that was comfortable for walking and hiking. We decided to sacrifice a little protection at the altar of multipurposeness and comfort and went with Vasque Breeze GTX Goretex hiking boots. They are waterproof, breathable, and will (hopefully) be good on and off the bikes.
When we do the final packing I will be sure to snap a few pictures of all of our gear and how it packs. I also plan to do a post soon about what spares and tools we are packing (this one may just be for the bike nerds or if you're truly bored at work).
Friday, June 10, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
So we're planning this trip and getting all the stuff we'll need to live for the next year and trying to make sure it will all fit in two Pelican hard cases and two duffel bags. At the same time, we're selling the things we don't or won't need and that won't easily fit in our next storage unit. While Colin outfits the motorbikes, I am attempting to find someone who will carry our unassuming, cute, little motorbikes across the Atlantic to somewhere that is not currently a State Department danger zone for less than my left tit (I'd rather pay cash, as I'm rather fond of them and would like to keep my almost matching pair).
One freight shipper asked why we don't just stow the bikes in the overhead bin on our plane. I thought it sounded like a perfectly reasonable solution, but alas, the airlines disagree. I am glad that Colin encouraged me to start on this project now, because it might take us a year and a half to row ourselves and the bikes to Cape Town (and one of us might not make it all the way, depending on how the food supply were to hold out...). This is a bigger challenge than I imagined it would be, but a way will be found! I just want to say, “Thank you,” to those responsible for the creation of the TSA and for the disruption of the airfreight industry.