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Day 8, Monday, January 8

We're done stocking up on provisions, our clothes are smelling fresh as a spring breeze, and the road calls. Let's go! We take off, direction Çhepo, and for the first 100km the going is good. Then, the tarmac stops. And the rain starts. And the first bike decides to not like the rain, and to kinda fire those two big cylinders on a rather arbitrary basis. Incidentally, it's the one that didn't do 1000km of test rides in Spain.

The guys get going and start wrenching. After they have removed with some finely timed hammer blows four troublesome cooling fins, the four precision engineers discover that the distributor they're trying to remove is of the kind that can be disassembled in situ. Well, who needs cooling fins anyway. While they're at it, they replace the points and readjust the ignition timing. Then it's back to the gravel pista. The small and large rocks that pose for gravel are a genuine pain in the ass, as is the rain. The ride starts to resemble an outing in a yellow submarine.

But, as submarines go, every once in a while they surface. Just the spot to do this is one of the open air snack bars that line the roadside. The dudes fill their well shaken stomachs with nice fried chicken and pork, and marvel at the 200 meters of tarmac road that is the touristic highlight of this one donkey town. After riding up and down the main street for a coupla times, so's not to forget what a great thing roads are, they get busy with the floater show: the guy who has the weirdest looking water-soaked fingers wins. Darius gets a score of 7.3 and wins hands down.

That's about it as far as pastimes go. In the tropics the days end at 18:00 sharp, as you surely know. So the Four get going double-quick, looking for a motel, a hotel, a garage, whatever. The only thing however that looks remotely like a place where a man can find a bed is a village of the Cuna tribe. Some quick haggling with the chief and a roof over the hammocks is secured. Payment is made via sugar, flower and tinned products, which works well in a place at least 250 miles from the nearest supermercado.

The by now traditional ceremony of reducing the beer stock at sunset, the chief being a welcome guest, is marred by the first contacts with heavy duty mosquitos and cockroaches. Very efficient on mosquitos is the US Army repellent, while cockroaches are best dispatched with targeted squirts out of the Baygon pump-action bottle. The thumb sized animals say adios to this world with a jungle-shaking KER-fffnzz! Best not try this at home. A memorable spectacle, which is however directly avenged by the Great Cockroach with a weird bad dream: Here goes: Slumbering, the Four writhe in their hammocks, when dull jungle drums come droning through the foliage. Woozily they try to open their eyes, only to see themselves cornered by a mob of giant cockroaches, armed to their evil teeth with Honda logos and Yamaha stickers. With ignition cables the Four get bound up and tied to giant Showa forks, stacked onto a mountain of rice. Now the torture starts: the two Panheads get smothered with the stickers, a big truck drives up and showers the bikes with gallons of Baygon. With a jungle-shaking KER-fffnzz! the big twins explode noisily, tearing the four sleepers from their torpor. Thank god the bikes are still where they were left the evening before.